Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Anytime you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of another, we should be able to recover compensation. This includes recovering money through an insurance settlement or through a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Here, we want to discuss the general process that most personal injury lawsuits go through before reaching a conclusion.
The Insurance Claim
Most injury claims never make it to court. The reality is that insurance carriers are typically the first and last stop for compensation in these cases. That can be either a good or bad thing, depending on how the insurance carriers handle the situation.
For example, after an injury caused by a negligent driver, a victim will typically contact their personal insurance carrier which will then file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. There may be some negotiation back and forth to determine a fair settlement amount, and the claim could settle within a few weeks or a few months.
This is not the case only with car accidents. Claims can be made against homeowners’ insurance carriers, business insurance carriers, etc. However, if the insurance carrier disputes liability or if they deny the claim, it becomes necessary for the injury victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at0fault party.
Filing the Lawsuit and the Discovery Process
If it becomes necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against an individual, business, or entity in Illinois, the “discovery process” begins. We are nowhere near reaching a courtroom at this point.
The discovery process consists of attorneys for the injury victim (plaintiff) and the alleged at-fault party (defendant) gathering and exchanging information and evidence with one another so everyone has the same material. At some point while the discovery process is ongoing, it is not uncommon for one side to agree to settle or drop the case. This could be because the evidence is indisputable one way or the other.
Sometimes, a judge will order mediation to take place between the two parties to attempt to reach an agreement before a jury trial becomes necessary. The mediator is often an attorney or former judge who will act as a neutral third party to try and resolve the matter.
Heading to Trial
In the event the case is not settled, a jury trial will be scheduled. This could take years to occur. This is not a fast process. When the trial date rolls around, a jury will hear from the attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant, eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, and others. A jury will ultimately decide whether or not the defendant more likely than not caused the plaintiff’s injuries as well as any compensation amount.
If either party disagrees with the jury’s decision, they will likely appeal. An appeal will go to a higher court, though it will not be re-heard. One side will tell the appeals court that they think the verdict was incorrect, and ask the court to overturn it.