What Happens When I File A Law Suit In My Car Accident Case – Part 1: Initiating The Law Suit
There are two primary options when trying to resolve a car accident or other personal injury case; settle or go to trial. When a case goes to trial the process can be complex and overwhelming. The first step is to initiate the lawsuit.
Your personal injury attorney will file a Complaint with the court. This will initiate the lawsuit and will name the parties involved, state the facts, assert the allegation of negligence, and list the injuries or damages suffered. Typically, there are two categories of damages that are listed in a Complaint;
1. Non-Economic Damages: losses such as pain, suffering, mental anguish, distress, humiliation, and anxiety
2. Economic Damages: out of pocket expenses such as; medical bills, wage loss, future loss of earnings
The concluding section of the Complaint is a “prayer” for relief where the specific demand for judgment and benefits is requested.
Once the Complaint is filed with the Court, it must be served on the defendant. Typically, this is done by having a process server delivering a copy of the Complaint to the defendant in addition to a summons. The summons notifies the defendant that they have to respond to the Complaint within a set time period – typically 30 days.
In most car accident and personal injury cases, the defendants have insurance. Generally, they will contact their insurance company and report that they were served with a Complaint. The agent assigned will notify the claims adjuster of the service. The claims adjuster then hires an attorney to represent the defendant or, driver at fault. The attorney for the defense will file an Answer to the Complaint. The Answer gives the defendant an opportunity to respond to the claims made in the Complaint, and to either admit or deny the enumerated allegations. The Answer might also contain “counter claims,” which are assertions made by the defense attorney that either justify the defendant’s actions or accuse the plaintiff of wrong doings.