Understanding the Basics of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits are notoriously complicated, and without the right legal experience, you may find yourself facing many challenges and unnecessary delays.

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit is a type of civil lawsuit filed by an injured individual or their loved ones against the person or entity responsible for their injury and related losses. The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to prove that and injury was the defendant’s fault and recover financial damages for the injured party.

How to File a Civil Lawsuit

A hand writes on a paper entitled "Lawsuit."If you are preparing to file a personal injury lawsuit, be sure to keep all documentation related to your injury in a safe place. This means photos, medical documents, witness statements, and any other documentation that supports your claim.

The next step is to consult with a personal injury lawyer, who may conduct interviews with you and any witnesses to your accident in order to establish a timeline and determine who is at fault for your injuries. A lawyer could then help you serve the responsible party with a lawsuit and start working with their legal counsel to reach a settlement.

What Evidence is Needed in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Gathering evidence is a vital step in a personal injury lawsuit. If you are able, take photos or videos of the accident scene in the immediate aftermath. Otherwise, ask a witness to do so for you, if you can. Witness testimony can be valuable as well, so be sure to get the contact information of anyone who witnesses the injury take place. If they are able to write down a statement right there, ask them to do so and then sign and date it. If police are involved, request a copy of the police report.

Documentation of medical treatment is crucial, as you must be able to prove that you incurred damages as a result of the injury. Request a copy of your medical records from your doctor’s office or the hospital you were taken to after the accident, preferably while you are still receiving treatment and after to show a timeline. Certain medical records may be accessible through online portals.

Parties to a Personal Injury Lawsuit

There are two main parties in a personal injury lawsuit: the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff is the injured party, or the person filing the lawsuit. The defendant is the person to have alleged caused the injury and who will be defending themselves in the lawsuit. Both parties will likely have their own lawyers.

Important Terms in Civil Lawsuits

Besides plaintiff and defendant, there are a few important terms to know while pursuing a civil lawsuit:

  • Settlement: When both parties to the lawsuit agree on an amount to resolve the case. The defendant may agree to a settlement when they accept liability for the injury due to the strength of the plaintiff’s case.
  • Negligence: A failure to take reasonable action to prevent foreseeable injuries or accidents.
  • Burden of proof: The responsibility of one party (typically the plaintiff) to provide evidence of their claims.
  • Damages: An estimate of the financial losses suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the injury. Usually, damages are made up of expenses such as the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and emotional distress. 

How Long Should it Take for a Personal Injury Lawsuit to go to Trial?

District Court cases that have to be tried generally take 1-3 years from the date the lawsuit is filed to get to trial. A County Court case may get to court quicker. Most personal injury lawsuits reach a settlement outside of court, meaning a trial is not necessary. However, if an adequate settlement cannot be reached outside of court, a civil case may go to trial.

Either party can opt to take the case to trial. The defendant may feel that the settlement amount proposed is too high, while the plaintiff may feel that the amount does not reflect the value of their losses.

Personal injury cases with insufficient or unclear evidence of liability may also go to trial so that the facts can be determined in court. Or, if the provided evidence appears to indicate partial fault on the part of the injured person, the defendant may opt to take the case to trial and attempt to prove that the injury was caused by something other than their own negligence.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take to Settle?

The time it takes for a personal injury lawsuit to resolve varies from case to case. Some cases reach a speedy resolution in a matter of weeks or months, while others take several years to reach a settlement or trial. In general, personal injury cases in Texas commonly take between six months and three years to resolve.

The resolution of a personal injury lawsuit can be delayed by many factors. If you are still receiving medical treatment for your injury when the civil lawsuit begins, the proceedings may be delayed until your treatment finishes – depending on the type of injury you suffered – so that your lawyer has a clearer picture of your total damages, which in turn helps determine a fair settlement amount.

A civil lawsuit may be delayed if new evidence comes up during the course of the lawsuit, especially if there may be more evidence left to find. Your lawyer may utilize the additional time to resolve factual issues in the case or obtain evidence that supports the need for a higher settlement amount. On the defendant’s side, their lawyer may attempt to delay the case in hopes that the plaintiff will give up and settle.

How Can a Lawyer Help in a Civil Lawsuit?

Hiring a personal injury lawyer is one of the first things to do if you have suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence. The experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. are ready to review your case and fight for a fair settlement and an efficient resolution on your behalf. Contact us today for a free case review.