Accidents occur every day in Memphis. They happen at work, school and home. Frequently, they occur on the road. Motor vehicle accidents, in fact, are a leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths in the United States.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that accident-related injuries impact more than three million people in our country each year. These injuries lead to financial losses that pile up long after the accident occurred.
The NSC estimates that the average comprehensive costs associated with personal injuries ranges between $140,000 to more than $1 million. Medical expenses and lost income account for the bulk of those costs.
However, if another person’s careless or reckless conduct caused your injuries, you could be entitled to compensation for your economic damages. You could also receive compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
To pursue a financial recovery, you would need to go through the personal injury claims process. Here, we break that process into eight steps:
The process starts with meeting a lawyer. This is called a consultation. Most personal injury law firms, including our own firm, provide this initial case review at no charge.
During the consultation, you will discuss the details of your case, including the nature of your accident and the extent of your injuries. The lawyer may ask you a series of questions. You should ask your own questions, too. For instance, you should ask about the lawyer’s experience.
The lawyer can advise you on the best course of action to take in your case and describe the types of compensation that may be available to you.You and the lawyer should also discuss attorney’s fees. For instance, at our law firm, we work with personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we secure a financial recovery for them.
If you move forward with filing a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will file and serve a complaint and all other required documents. The party you sue will be listed as the defendant on the complaint. You will be listed as the plaintiff. The complaint will state the nature of your accident and injuries, the legal basis for holding the defendant liable and the types of damages that you are seeking. The defendant will file an answer to the complaint.
After both sides file and serve these initial documents, the parties will enter discovery. This is a formal evidence-exchanging process.
During discovery, your lawyer will send a list of questions, or interrogatories, to the defendant. The lawyer may also submit a request for documents. Both sides may also take depositions, or sworn statements.
Additionally, your lawyer may consult with an accident reconstruction expert or medical experts. Those experts can help your lawyer to understand your case and provide reports. If your case goes to trial, one or more of these experts may testify on your behalf.
Attorneys typically use pretrial motions to compel the other side to provide evidence. However, attorneys may also file motions that are aimed at resolving a case before it goes to trial.
For instance, the defendant’s attorney may file a motion to dismiss all or part of a lawsuit based on a lack of evidence or jurisdiction. The plaintiff’s attorney, on the other hand, may file a motion for summary judgment. This motion would argue that the facts in the case are undisputed, and the judge should, in turn, grant immediate relief.
The attorneys for both sides typically try to reach a settlement before a case goes to trial. In a settlement, the defendant agrees to pay compensation, and the plaintiff agrees to release the defendant from liability.
The negotiation process starts with the plaintiff making a demand for compensation. The defendant replies with an offer. The parties may go back-and-forth several times. In many cases, the parties bring in a mediator. The mediator’s role is to get the parties to reach an agreement.
Attorney David E. Gordon formerly worked as an insurance defense lawyer, which gives him a strong understanding of how insurers approach settlement negotiations. He uses that insight to his clients’ advantage.
If the parties fail to reach a settlement, a personal injury case will go to trial. Typically, the trial involves two stages. First, the jury decides if the defendant is liable. If so, the jury determines the amount of damages.
Most personal injury cases are resolved through settlements. However, if a case goes to trial, it will benefit you to work with an experienced trial lawyer. David, for instance, is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Specialist who has tried cases before juries throughout his career.
After you reach a settlement with the other side or a court enters a judgment in your favor, your lawyer will go through the process of collecting and distributing the funds, including the funds owed to you.
If the court enters a judgment in your favor, the defendant may file a post-trial motion that seeks to set aside that judgment or reduce the amount of damages that a jury awarded to you.
The defendant could also pursue an appeal, which involves asking a higher court such as the Tennessee Court of Appeals to determine whether any legal errors occurred at the trial.
While a case is on appeal, the parties may actually resume settlement negotiations in an effort to bring timely closure to the case.
If you or someone you love suffers injuries due to another’s negligence, contact the Law Office of David E. Gordon.
While the above serves as a general summary of the personal injury lawsuit process, you should talk with an experienced attorney about the specific facts and issues in your case.
Our mission is to provide quality service to personal injury victims and their families in Memphis and surrounding areas in Tennessee and northern Mississippi. Call or reach us online today to talk about your case.