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What does litigation mean in a personal injury case? Litigation in a personal injury case is the act or process of suing the negligent party who caused your injuries in civil court. When you bring a lawsuit, you are seeking to get monetary damages for the injuries the person or entity caused you. This compensation might be for medical bills, lost time at work, pain and suffering and other damages. In a civil lawsuit, the parties involved are collectively called “litigants.” The person bringing the suit is known as the “plaintiff” and the person or entity being sued is the “defendant.”
A plaintiff in a personal injury case is not required to hire an attorney to sue someone in court. However, the defendant may well have aggressive insurance company attorneys or other attorneys on their side fighting for them, so it’s advisable if you’re bringing a lawsuit, to consider hiring an attorney who understands Alabama’s personal injury laws. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side in the courtroom is especially important when your injuries are severe or the case is more complicated.
Not all personal injury claims are litigated. Some personal injury cases settle quickly through negotiations before a lawsuit is brought, or sometimes the act of filing a suit will persuade the other party to settle. However, if you can’t agree with the negligent party on a fair settlement, or if they are denying they even caused your injuries, a lawsuit may be your only recourse to possibly receive compensation for your injuries.
When cases are in active litigation preparing for trial, there are several things that take place. The following provides a very general summary, but there can be many other steps involved in getting to trial, depending upon the case itself.
First, there is pre-trial discovery. During discovery, both sides in the case seek evidence to bolster their side. For example, the plaintiff or their attorney might serve discovery requests for information on the other party or subpoena witnesses to the incident. Depositions are taken from the parties and witnesses involved. If you as the plaintiff are being deposed, you will have to sit and answer questions from the defendant’s attorney, just as if you are in the courtroom.
While discovery is being conducted or following discovery, expert witnesses may be identified to testify, depending upon the complexities of the case. Expert witnesses are professionals in their field who are called upon in trials and hearings to back up the claims of litigants through their expertise. Both sides might bring in their own expert witnesses. Some other steps in preparing for trial include responding to motions or attending pre-trial hearings.
Finally, when your case actually goes to trial, you’ll present your evidence in front of a jury or judge in the courtroom. Once both sides have presented all their evidence, a decision will be made. Depending upon how well your evidence was presented and whether it was believed, you may or may not receive compensation for your injuries.
You can see that litigation can be complicated; often, to be successful in a personal injury lawsuit, especially in a more complex case, skilled legal knowledge can mean all the difference in the outcome.
If you’ve been injured due to negligence, reach out to the experienced Alabama personal injury attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana for help. We can help you determine whether litigation is right for your particular case and, if it is, help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation at (251) 444-7000, toll free at (855) 390-5566, or visit us online.