Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

In our opinion, the personal injury process starts long before the actual filing of a lawsuit. It often begins immediately after an accident, when the victim and his or her attorney start preserving evidence to support an injury claim. This crucial action should never be undervalued, as it can have a great impact in the quality of evidence the victim produces in court. For more information, visit our page that explains the steps to take after an accident .

The steps of a personal injury lawsuit process in Ohio can vary slightly depending on the type of accident, but listed below are the typical steps in an accident case.

1. The Victim Consults With A Lawyer

The most important step of a lawsuit is consulting with an Ohio attorney and ultimately choosing one that you feel comfortable working with. A skilled lawyer will begin collecting and preserving evidence, as well as guide you through the remainder of the personal injury lawsuit process.

2. Initial Court Papers: Pleading

Proper pleading is crucial because any defects can lead to dismissal of your case. It's at this stage that the victim becomes formally known as the plaintiff. It also affords the defendant an opportunity to file a counterclaim against the plaintiff. A vital step following the filing of the complaint is service of process, where the plaintiff must strictly adhere to Ohio law when notifying the defendants of the lawsuit they are named in.

The pleading stage is important for another reason: It's when the court first records your claim for statute of limitations purposes. The statute of limitations sets out the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit, which typically begins running when you first suffer your injuries. When you first file your complaint, it stops the running of the statute of limitations and preserves your claim. If your claim exceeds the Ohio statute of limitations, it almost always fails and is permanently dismissed by the court.

3. Discovery

This is the formal process of finding and obtaining evidence. Discovery differs from the initial accident investigation because the plaintiff can now leverage the court's power to ask the other parties questions related to the accident - through interrogatories or depositions - and can formally request documents and other evidence. This stage often confirms the strength of a plaintiff's case and helps him or her prepare for court.

4. Pretrial Motions

Pretrial motions are a crucial part of litigation strategy, as they often determine what evidence will be included or excluded from consideration by the court. Also, a defendant often files motions for summary judgment at this stage, arguing that the pleadings don't present any actionable grounds for the plaintiff to recover damages from him or her.

5. Settlement Talks/Negotiations

Very few personal injury cases reach trial. Usually, the plaintiff and defendant forge a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement can be reached at any stage of an Ohio personal injury lawsuit, as long as a verdict has not been reached. However, a large number of accident settlements are reached after discovery and pretrial litigation, but before trial.

Reaching an agreement is tough, even when it's clear that the defendant was in the wrong. Negotiations are extremely contentious because thousands or millions of dollars are on the line. The plaintiff wants every dollar that he or she is entitled to while the defendant wants to minimize the loss. A personal injury attorney's experience is invaluable in settlement negotiations.

6. Trial And Verdict

Few lawsuits reach the trial stage, but a skilled lawyer has been preparing the client's case for trial since day one. At trial, each party presents his or her arguments and evidence, including witnesses, but this presentation requires a huge amount of careful planning and preparation.

After each side has presented its case, the trier of fact - usually a jury in cases involving high damages - reaches a verdict. The verdict decides not only who wins or loses but also the awarded amount of damages if the plaintiff wins.

7. Collecting Money Damages

Even when a plaintiff achieves a big legal victory and is awarded all the damages sought, there is still the tricky task of actually getting that money from the defendant. An experienced attorney knows how to prevent the defendant from transferring away assets to avoid losing them in a judgment.

8. Appeals

Either party can appeal the trial court's decision. The appellate court obtains a record from the trial court and determines whether the trial court erred in its judgment or made a serious error that affected the outcome of the case.

Speak With An Experienced Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer

If someone's negligence caused injury to you or resulted in the death of your loved one, email The Donahey Law Firm or call 1-866-918-5886 to arrange a free consultation with an Ohio lawyer.