For those who do not work in the legal field, the notion of beginning court proceedings can be intimidating. We will outline the processes involved to demystify an often complex system.
1. Meet with Your Attorney
Whether or not a case goes to trial, having an attorney at your side is crucial to the preparation process. Your attorney will be able to navigate the proper channels ranging from investigation to discovery, mediation, and beyond. They will work as an advocate and liaison within the court to achieve a desired outcome.
Your attorney will gather information to build a strong case. In personal injury cases, your attorney will want to look at medical records and other information to understand the extent of your injuries, and the impact of those injuries on your livelihood and personal life.
3. Filling Suit
As your attorney explores avenues for damages, if a settlement cannot be reached, they will file a lawsuit in court. The amount of time it takes before a lawsuit enters the trial phase depends on the complexity of the case.
4. Complaint and Answer
The document that details the allegations against another party is known as a complaint. Once filed, the defendant is given a period of time in which they need to “answer” the complaint with an admission of guilt or a denial of the allegations.
The discovery phase can become very complex. This is the part of the pretrial where evidence, witness testimony, and more are gathered, and depositions are given. Discovery is the part of the pretrial that will require your direct participation.
Occasionally, lawsuits can enter mediation before a trial takes place. In mediation, a neutral person works with all parties involved to reach a resolution. Mediation is not legally binding, so parties are under no obligation to accept the terms offered in this phase.
Trial is the portion of a case most people are familiar with, but the actual breakdown of a case going to trial can be divided into a few sections. First, a jury is selected. Second, the judge will hear opening statements from each side. Next, the court will hear witness testimony and attorneys will cross examine those witnesses. After evidence and witnesses have been examined, the closing arguments will be presented to the judge and jury. After all is said and done, the jury will deliberate and a verdict will be issued.
After the Trial
After a verdict is issued, the defendant may make an appeal, asking a higher court to consider a different verdict. If damages are awarded, your attorney is obligated to pay all other parties who can lay claim to the money first, before you can access the funds from the verdict.
It is important to understand how the courts and court procedures go in a lawsuit. To ensure you are fully prepared for your case, and that you receive the damages you are owed, talk to the team at Goodwyn Law Firm LLC.