Filing a personal injury lawsuit is not all tricky! If you have a basic idea about it, it can, in fact, be easy for you to go through the entire process. First of all, you will have to inform both the court and the defendant of the basis for your case. You have to keep track of time as well.
In the first stage, you will have to file a set of documents with the court. Then, you need to serve these papers on the defendant.
What is a caption?
You will then have to explain the basis for your lawsuit. For this, you will have to prepare and file a complaint. This complaint can be defined as a formal legal document that identifies the legal basis for your personal injury lawsuit. You will be known as the plaintiff. There will be a defendant. Also, there will be a court where you will be filing your lawsuit in. This stage is called caption.
Identifying negligence and damages
In the next stage, you will have to go through some sentences or paragraphs that explain the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case. In this stage, the identification of the legal theories also takes place behind your allegations. Also, the facts that pertain to your lawsuit, are given emphasis on.
Signature is required
The last part of your complaint will consist of your signature. Alternatively, it might also require the signature of your attorney, as the case may be.
There are many jurisdictions that need you to file a summons. It is a document that identifies the parties to the litigation. It also explains to the defendant that they are being sued. The summons also mainly contains a signature of the court’s representative and the seal of the court. Apart from filing the summons and complaint, you will have to pay a filing fee. Depending on the court and type of lawsuit, the amount ranges from $100 to $400.
Once you file the complaint, you might be required to serve a copy of each of the defendant. When you do not have any proper service, the court might not have jurisdiction over the defendant. Also, without jurisdiction, the court will not be able to impose any judgment.
Serving the defendant
This is stage is referred to as ‘Service of Process’. Legally, this term serves the defendant with the summons and complaint. The service of process is usually completed when the defendant receives a copy of certain documents.
In usual, professional process servers, court officials, or law enforcement officers make sure to complete the service of process. This might take place through U.S. mail certain times. However, proof of receipt by the defendant might be required.
The service of process needs to take place within a certain time period. It usually takes almost a month after you filed your complaint and summons with the court. However, if you are not able to serve the defendant, the court might grant time extensions. However, you need to take proper steps to find and serve the defendant.
Keep the Statute of Limitations in mind
File your personal injury lawsuit on time. Once the statute of limitations deadline expires, you might not be able to file a lawsuit. A statute of limitations can be defined as a law that limits the amount of time that may pass prior to the filing of a lawsuit. Each state has its own deadlines for various types of cases. However, a two-year time limit is common here.
The statute of limitations begins when your personal injury takes place. In case you do not file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you might be stopped from bringing that lawsuit in court. However, there are certain alternative court documents that you can file to protect your right to sue.
Once you file your summons and complaint with the court, the next step is for the defendant to respond to your specific complaint. Now, the reply might be made in either of the two ways:
The defendant can file an answer to your complaint. Here, the defendant responds to each of your allegations in the complaint. He might admit or deny each. It is up to him! In some cases, the defendant does not entirely admit or completely deny the allegation.
The defendant can file a motion to dismiss. In case the court grants this motion, the court can dismiss a part of your complaint or the whole of it!
Check if an insurance policy will cover your injury
When you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to find out whether that person has insurance coverage to cover your specific injury. Many factors come into play here.
This is an important step. It is because it can determine whether or not you would be able to collect any damages award that a jury provides you with. Collecting on the judgment is vital. When your injuries are not that serious, your own insurance coverage might provide a proper solution. Think before filing a lawsuit against someone who is without any insurance.
In case your injuries are severe, you might want to proceed whether or not they are covered by an insurance policy.
Try to get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer
You must discuss your case with a South Florida personal injury attorney. Even when your injuries or damages are minor, you can at least talk with a personal injury attorney. Genuine personal injury lawyers readily provide an initial free consultation. Here, they discuss the merits of your case with you. They also make you aware of your legal options. Mostly, the attorney works on a “contingency” basis. Here, the client needs to pay nothing. He will pay only when a settlement is made in his favor.
Based on the complexity of the legal issues, decide whether or not to hire a personal injury attorney. If your case is serious, make sure to get a lawyer to represent you legally.