Even if you've already made the decision to hire an Atlanta personal injury attorney to handle your Georgia personal injury lawsuit, keep in mind that a typical lawsuit can take more than a year until completion; possibly longer if it goes to trial.
So before you begin the process, it's a good idea to understand how injury lawsuits work. Here is a brief look at the many stages of a Georgia personal injury lawsuit.
Stage 1: Meeting with your Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Your first meeting with an Atlanta personal injury attorney is when you go over the specifics of your case. This is when you'll present the evidence you already have available concerning your case including medical documents, photographs, accident reports, insurance policies, and so on.
If the attorney thinks you have a valid claim, and you feel that they are a good fit for your case, you can discuss legal fees and officially hire them to represent you.
After you've retained a lawyer, your Atlanta personal injury attorney can begin analyzing your evidence and getting the paperwork together to file your lawsuit with the courts against the party or parties you are claiming damages against.
It is important to note that most Georgia personal injury lawsuits start out as personal injury claims. An injury claim is a more informal process that basically entails negotiations between your attorney and the other side's insurance company or legal defense. If a successful resolution cannot be obtained, that is when a lawsuit is filed and may proceed to a court setting.
Stage 2: Complaint/Petition and Summons
Your Atlanta personal injury attorney will help you file the paperwork to open your Georgia personal injury lawsuit. This paperwork is called either a complaint or petition, and it lists the action required of the defendant. The defendant will receive all this paperwork from the court in the form of a summons.
Stage 3: Answer
The defendant will respond to your complaint in 1 of the following ways:
- denied; or
- insufficient knowledge to admit or deny.
The defendant may choose to file a counterclaim against you, or perhaps motion for the case to be dismissed.
Stage 4: Fact-finding and Discovery
At this part of a Georgia personal injury lawsuit, both sides will be asked to provide documents, sworn statements in the form of depositions, and be subject to interrogatories, which are questions about the injuries and circumstances of the case.
Stage 5: Court Motions and Settlements
Many times a Georgia personal injury lawsuit is settled before going to trial, but if your case goes to court, both your Atlanta personal injury attorney and the lawyer from the other side may try to file a court motion to end the case before the trial officially begins:
- motion to dismiss;
- summary judgment; or
- default judgment.
The most common resolution to a Georgia personal injury lawsuit is a settlement. This is where you as the plaintiff cease all court action against the defendant for a set sum of money agreed upon between you and the defendant.
When court motions or settlements cannot resolve a case, it goes to trial. Your Atlanta personal injury attorney can explain each motion that is filed in your case and what they mean to the overall process.
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