How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey
An attorney who hustles to get the results you need
When you’ve been hurt in a personal injury accident, you may not be sure what to do next. You are still healing from your injuries and dealing with pain. Someone’s negligence caused the accident, but do you have a case? Can you file a lawsuit? How much money can you expect to receive? An experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer can help.
Attorney David Leigh of The Leigh Law Firm, P.C. understands how an injury can affect your life. The legal process can be complicated and confusing and you may not even know where to begin. All you have are questions. Attorney Leigh is ready to meet with you to help you get the answers you need.
In general, these are steps that are followed in a personal injury lawsuit:
Talk to a New Jersey personal injury lawyer.
An experienced attorney can go over the details of your accident, discuss your legal options for recovering compensation, and give you an idea of what to expect during the process in a free consultation. One thing to consider is when your accident took place. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date of your accident, although other deadlines can apply in some circumstances.
That seems like plenty of time, but waiting too long to take legal action may impact the strength of your case. Over time, important evidence can be lost and witnesses can forget details about the accident.
A lawyer will start to build your case.
An experienced law firm will have the resources to gather information about your accident. Investigators can gather evidence, review accident reports and other documentation, and take action to preserve evidence controlled by a third party (such as video). An attorney will also interview witnesses and if necessary, talk to experts. Your lawyer will also determine the total damages you have suffered as a result of your accident.
A copy of the complaint and a summons will be served to the defendant (the party you are suing) informing that person they are being sued. There will also be instructions for the other party to respond to the suit.
There may be settlement negotiations.
Insurance companies often settle lawsuits to avoid going to court. However, their initial offer typically falls far short of covering the actual damages suffered. But settlements can be negotiated, as long as both parties are willing to engage in discussion. Your lawyer will deal directly with the insurance company on your behalf. But a settlement that works for both sides may not be reached at this point in the process.
The lawsuit is filed in court.
Your lawyer will draft the documents that set your lawsuit in motion and then file them in the appropriate court. There will be a complaint that lists the facts of the case, an explanation of how you contend the other party was negligent, the damages you suffered as a result of that negligence, and the relief you are seeking.
The discovery process begins.
Discovery is a formal exchange of information and evidence in the case. Depositions of witnesses may be taken. Each side may share copies of documents, records, video, and other evidence that may be used at trial. This process can last several months, but each side will get a better idea of the strength of the case and how it will be presented at trial.
Settlement negotiations may continue.
Both sides may be interested in renewing talks to try to resolve the case outside of court. Each side may feel confident about the strength of their case, but nobody can predict what will happen at trial. Your lawyer will keep you updated on any settlement offers and offer advice. But it is your choice whether to accept or reject any settlement offer.
The case will go to court.
Assuming no settlement has been reached, the trial will begin. It may be a jury trial or a bench trial in which the judge hears the evidence and makes a decision. Each side will be allowed to present an opening statement. As you are the plaintiff, your attorney would then present your case. Evidence will be presented and witnesses will be called on to testify. Then the other party’s attorney will present their case.
Both sides will then be allowed to give closing arguments. The case will then go to the jury or the judge for a verdict. If it is a jury trial, jurors will be provided with instructions by the judge. A decision could be reached in hours, days, or even weeks.
A settlement can still be reached at any point in the process before there is a verdict.
How much can I recover in a lawsuit?
There is no way to answer that question, as the value of your case depends on many different factors. This depends on the strength of your case, the type and severity of your injuries, and insurance policy limits.
But in general, you can seek compensation for current and future medical expenses related to your injury, lost wages if you couldn’t work, and other damages that you may have suffered, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of future income, and loss of consortium (damage to intimate relationships).
You can learn more about the personal injury lawsuit process and how it could impact your case during a free consultation. Contact us to schedule a time that is convenient for you.