If you have been in a traffic accident, the damage to your vehicle or the injuries you sustained may have you wondering if you should file a lawsuit against the other driver. Upon deciding to do so, you should be aware of steps involved.
You must first file a complaint or petition with the court in your area. This will make you the plaintiff in the case. The complaint will detail the allegations that will determine if you are entitled to receive damages from the other driver. The complaint will also assert the relief sought for your pain and suffering
After the complaint is filed, the defendant may file a motion that can affect your case. They may ask for a change of venue or judge. They may request the case be moved from state to federal court. Or they may file a motion to dismiss the case entirely.
If you are able to survive the motion process, the judge will set a trial date which may be several months after the initial claim is filed. The judge may also order you and the defendant into mediation where both sides speak with an impartial third party who tries to bring a consensus to the case.
If mediation proves to be unsuccessful, the case enters into the discovery phase. Attorneys examine facts and documents related to the case and interview witnesses.
You may then file a motion for summary judgment if you and your attorney feel the evidence collected supports your assertion for compensation. This motion will allow the judge to make a verdict without hearing from witnesses. If disputed facts need to be resolved, the case will enter the final stage, the trial.
A Atlanta personal injury attorney will be able to explain the process in greater detail.
Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Your Traffic Accident Lawsuit
It is also very important to be aware of the pitfalls to avoid in a traffic accident lawsuit. Many people with legitimate cause for a lawsuit damage their own case by altering the facts involved. As a result, they provide a defense lawyer or their insurance company with information that can be used against them in court.
The following is a brief list of the top three preventable mistakes you can avoid:
Lying is an easily preventable mistake whose repercussions may be significant. In Atlanta, filling out an insurance application with false information will cause the personal injury claim to become void. Additionally, if you were at fault in any way, admit it. One should have the expectation that the insurance company of the driver at fault will hire investigators to review any surveillance footage. If you deny doing something that may have contributed to the accident and it’s later revealed on surveillance video, your case may be irreversibly damaged.
- Talking About Your Case
Many people will try to contract you after your accident. Do not talk about your case with any defense attorneys or insurance adjusters. Anyone hired by the driver at fault or their insurance company is looking for information to undermine your claim. If an insurance adjuster wants to talk about your case, have them talk to your lawyer.
- Posting on Social Media
Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters will thoroughly investigate your social media profiles. Twitter, Facebook, blog posts and related social media accounts will all be scrutinized to prove the injuries you sustained are not as serious as you claim. After a traffic accident, be mindful of the activities and photos you post online.
- Executing the Wrong Documents
Don’t put your signature on anything until you speak with a lawyer. Many documents have fine print or legal jargon that waives your right to future injury claims. Or the verbiage in the document may allow the insurance provider of the at-fault driver to violate your privacy by gaining access to your medical records.
- Taking Too Long to File a Claim
In Georgia, all personal injury and wrongful death claims have a two year statute of limitations. If you take too long to file your claim, you will be ineligible to receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses or any pain and suffering you sustained.
A personal injury attorney will specialize in cases involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles. They understand the emotional, psychological, and physical hardships you may endure as a result of your injuries. A traffic accident can be very traumatic. Your primary focus should be on recuperating or being present for your family if you have lost a loved one.