When you have been hurt in an accident stemming from someone else’s wrongful conduct, you have the right to pursue full and fair compensation for physical injury and property damages. Often, time is of the essence, particularly when your injury makes it impossible for you to work. However, if insurance doesn’t fully cover your losses or you can’t quickly negotiate an acceptable settlement, you’ll have to go through a potentially lengthy process before your case can go to trial.
Preparing and Filing a Complaint
To start legal action, you have to file a complaint in the appropriate court. Before you think of doing this, you need to retain an experienced personal injury attorney, someone familiar with the law and the rules of procedure.
Pursuant to what is known as the “statute of limitations,” a personal injury lawsuit must be filed with the court within a specific amount of time after your injury (or after you should reasonably have discovered your injury). Failure to file within the time period set forth in the statute of limitations can result in a claim being barred.
Once the complaint has been filed and served on any named defendants, the defendants will have a specific period of time (usually 30 days) to file an answer to the complaint. Failure to do so in a timely manner can give a plaintiff the right to seek a default judgment.
The Discovery Process
Once the complaint and answer have been filed, a discovery schedule will be established by the court. There are generally methods of discovery, or gathering of evidence:
- Depositions — A deposition is oral testimony, given under oath, in response to questions from attorneys for all parties. This testimony is usually transcribed by a court reporter, but may also be videotaped.
- Interrogatories — Interrogatories are written questions from one party to another, and must be answered in writing within a specified period of time. The court usually establishes a limit on the number of interrogatories.
- Requests for production — Any party can request that other parties produce documents or other evidence relevant to the case.
You can also expect, early in the process, that the judge will encourage or potentially require the parties to engage in good faith efforts to settle, so the case does not have to go to trial.
Contact the Cintron Firm
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.