personal injury case, the first critical step is to marshal all the facts pertaining to your
case. For example, after a motor vehicle collision, exchanging contact
information with the other side, obtaining insurance information, taking
photographs at the scene of the accident and talking to witnesses will
help in preparing your case.
Experienced Kingston personal injury attorneys know that it is important
to collect as much evidence as possible. You should consult with a personal
injury attorney immediately following an accident. Disclosing how and
when the injuries occurred will help in assessing the strengths and weaknesses
of your case.
In a personal injury case, approximately 90 to 95 percent of cases are
settled outside of court. Whether it’s a
slip and fall case or
car accident, plaintiff’s attorney and defense counsel typically engage in negotiations
to avoid a lengthy and costly trial. A demand letter is drafted and submitted
to the insurance company explaining facts surrounding the incident and
establishing fault on the part of the defendant. Documentation regarding
damages is provided to bolster the plaintiff’s case. For example,
this may include medical bills, physician reports, and information regarding
However, agreement between the parties is not always achieved and the case
may proceed to trial. A formal complaint is then filed with the appropriate
court and served on the defendant who then responds with an answer within
a specified time frame.
The discovery phase of litigation is a pretrial investigation process that
requires disclosure of all relevant information surrounding the case.
Both plaintiff and defendant obtain facts about the case through interrogatories,
depositions, and requests for document production. Interrogatories consist
of written questions that are answered under oath or penalty of perjury.
During a deposition, a sworn testimony is obtained from a party or a witness
with knowledge of the facts that can be used for pretrial preparation.
Requests for document production forces the other side to produce relevant
documents pertaining to a personal injury case such as medical records.
At the conclusion of the discovery stage of litigation, a party may elect
to make a motion to the court asking the judge to enter a particular order
or ruling in favor of the movant. The opposing party has the opportunity
to file a written response. The court hears arguments from both sides
and determines whether or not to grant the motion.
The common types of motions are a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary
judgment. The latter may expedite the litigation process or completely
eliminate the need for trial. The moving party gathers all evidence in
its favor and argues that there are no “triable issues of fact.”
The judge may grant the motion if it is clearly shown that the undisputed
facts and the law would render it impossible for the opposing side to
prevail if the case went to trial.
On the other hand, a motion to dismiss is typically filed immediately after
a lawsuit is initiated and before the discovery phase. Procedural issues
are usually addressed that prevent the court from hearing the case. For
example, a defendant may move to dismiss a case because plaintiff filed
suit outside the statute of limitations period.
In a personal injury case, proceeding to litigation means that a jury will
usually be selected from a pool of qualified jurors. At trial, plaintiff’s
attorney and opposing counsel will each provide their opening statements
relating the facts of the case. Each side has the opportunity to present
their case-in-chief, where witnesses and experts are called to testify
on behalf of that party. The opposing side has the opportunity to cross-examine
the witnesses and experts. Relevant physical evidence such as medical
records and photographs may be presented. At the conclusion of each party’s
case-in-chief, closing arguments are provided that summarize the case
in the light most favorable to that party. Finally, in a jury trial, the
judge instructs the jurors on what legal standards to apply when deliberating
in the jury room. The trial concludes when the jury reaches a verdict.