About 6 million car accidents occur in the US every year. Not every case goes to court, though. If you want to fight for compensation, you’ll need to file an auto accident lawsuit.
Here are the six steps you’ll need to take when filing an auto accident lawsuit. Completing these steps will help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Then, you can cover your losses without stress.
Otherwise, you’ll have to cover your medical bills, property damage, and lost wages out of pocket.
Don’t let it come to that! Instead, learn how to file a lawsuit after a motor accident with these tips today.
1. Find aN AUTO ACCIDENT Lawyer
Before learning how to file an auto accident lawsuit alone, consider consulting a lawyer. An experienced lawyer will help you review your legal options. They can help you make a more informed choice moving forward.
Hiring a lawyer will also help you avoid making costly mistakes. One small filing error could get your lawsuit thrown out.
You could waste valuable time or miss out on winning the compensation you deserve as a result.
Instead, look for an experienced auto accident attorney. There are over 135,000 personal injury lawyers in the US. Not every lawyer specializes in car accident cases, though.
Take the time to find someone who specializes in auto accidents similar to yours. For example, maybe your crash involved a bike or motorcycle. Perhaps it involved a four-way intersection.
Consider the special circumstances of your case and find a car accident lawyer with similar experience.
Check your local bar association website or Martindale-Hubbel directory to start your search. Make sure they’re licensed to practice in the area. Some laws can vary based on where you’re located.
Then, schedule a consultation appointment. Cover the basics of your case. Ask them what outcome they expect.
Choose a lawyer who is honest and transparent. If they make guarantees, scratch them off your list.
Instead, find a lawyer who will fight with your best interests in mind.
Take the time to gather references and reviews from their previous clients, too. Speaking with their previous clients will help you learn more about the lawyer’s abilities. Make sure they’re capable of accomplishing your goals.
Once you find an experienced lawyer, you can file your lawsuit without encountering problems along the way.
2. File a Complaint
As the plaintiff, you’ll need to file a complaint with the court. It’s also called a petition in certain states. The complaint is a document with numbered paragraphs that outlines:
- What happened on the day of the car accident
- The claimed damages
- Your legal basis for bringing the lawsuit
Once you’ve filed the complaint, the lawsuit will officially begin.
Make sure to speak with your lawyer before filing a complaint. They’ll make sure there aren’t any issues. Otherwise, the complaint could get thrown out before your case has even started.
3. Serve the Complaint
Once you’ve filed the complaint, your lawyer will serve the complaint on the defendant. The defendant needs to receive notice that they’re the subject of a legal proceeding.
Car accident lawsuits are civil matters (not criminal). You’ll still need to give the defendant notice to allow them the opportunity to mount a legal defense.
Informing the defendant that you’re filing a lawsuit means servicing them a copy of a complaint. This process is also called a summons.
It’s important to note that there are special rules involved regarding:
- Who can serve the complaint
- When to serve the complaint
- How the complaint is served
Rules can vary based on jurisdiction, too. In most cases, the plaintiff has 30 days to serve the defendant. If the defendant is difficult to track down, the deadline can get extended.
4. The Defendant Answers
Once the defendant receives the summons, they have the chance to respond to the complaint. They can either admit or deny the factual allegations outlined within the complaint.
Their answer also gives the defendant a chance to set forth their legal defense.
Once the defendant answers the summons, discovery can begin.
Discovery is a process that allows both parties to exchange information relevant to the case. It’s an opportunity to uncover evidence that can support the claim.
Each side gets the chance to gather the information they need to plan their side of the case. Your lawyer can gather evidence and build their argument.
The discovery process can also involve interrogatories, which are written questions. Your lawyer can also request the production of documents. They might require depositions (oral statements made under oath) as well.
After the discovery process is complete, the trial can begin.
Each side will use the information they gathered to present a case in court.
A trial starts with both sides making their opening statements. Then, the plaintiff will present their evidence. This evidence can include both oral testimonies and documents.
The defendant will then cross-examine the plaintiff’s witnesses. Then, the defendant can present their defense.
Afterward, the plaintiff will get the chance to cross-examine the defendant’s witnesses as well.
Finally, both parties will make their closing statements.
After the closing statements, the jury will deliberate and reach a verdict. If it’s a bench trial, the judge will deliberate alone. Either the judge or jury will find a verdict either in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant.
Then, they’ll enter a judgment. If the judgment is in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant will need to pay damages in a certain dollar amount.
When filing an auto accident lawsuit, it’s important to note that there are sometimes additional steps involved. For example, the lawyers might file motions or appeals.
Since lawsuits are time-consuming and costly, most cases settle before the lawsuit is filed.
You can consult your lawyer to determine the best course of action for your case.
How to File an Auto Accident Lawsuit: 6 Essential Steps
Learning how to file an auto accident lawsuit doesn’t have to feel stressful. Instead, take the time to consult a car accident lawyer. They can lead you every step of the way.
With their help, you can fight for the compensation you’re due.
Want to discuss your case with a team of lawyers you can trust? We’re here to help.
Request a free case review today to get started.
CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.329.3491.