Filing A Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit

Personal Injury Guidebook

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* This general summary of the law and your rights is not intended to be a substitute for personal legal advice from a lawyer about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please see a lawyer for answers to your specific questions.

If the lawyer determines that you have a case, he or she will try to settle the claim for you in a fair manner. If not, the lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf. After the lawsuit is filed, you become the plaintiff, and the person who injured you becomes the defendant. Lawyers on each side will find facts through written questions, documents and depositions. This process is called discovery.

Most personal injury cases do not go to trial. They are instead resolved privately or in mediation, where the plaintiff and defendant work out the issue and decide on a settlement.

Mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques.

During a trial, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not follow standard procedures or meet expected standards — in other words, that the defendant was negligent. A decision will then be made, determining which party wins. Should the plaintiff win, the jury will then determine the damages, or the amount the plaintiff is entitled to recover. Of course, as with any case, there could be an appeal of the verdict.