The Perecman Firm, PLLC is dedicated to providing experienced representation for accident victims in New York. If you or a loved one has been hurt due to a car or commercial trucking accident, you may be confused by the situation. This is understandable, but it’s important to learn what your legal options are to protect yourself and the people close to you. Having a lawyer you can rely on, and who has the knowledge to help you, will make protecting your rights much easier.
Many people have never participated in a lawsuit of any kind, so taking the time to learn about what to expect is crucial and can make the process much easier. Our talented accident attorneys at The Perecman Firm, PLLC will help you find the answers you need.
The First Steps: Complaints and Summons
A lawsuit that results from a vehicle accident starts with a complaint and a summons. The complaint is a legal document that establishes what claims the injured person (the plaintiff) is making against the person responsible for the accident (the defendant). The summons informs the defendant who the plaintiff is and how much time the defendant has to reply to the complaint.
Usually the defendant is given about 20 days to reply to the complaint with an answer. Most times the defendant will answer with:
- What (if anything) they admit to doing
- What claims they are disputing
- Whether they have any defenses against the plaintiff’s claims
- Any counterclaims they have against the plaintiff
Alternatively, the defendant may try to get the court to dismiss the case outright by filing a motion listing all viable defenses and requesting the court throw out the lawsuit (a dismissal). There are a number of reasons a dismissal may be granted, such as jurisdictional issues, filing in the wrong court, or bad service of the lawsuit documents on the defendant.
Since defendants only have a limited time to respond, they may risk having the court rule against them in a default judgment if they don’t respond in a timely manner. The same holds true for responses to counterclaims or third party claims.
Discovery: Finding out who knows what
Discovery is usually the most time consuming part of a lawsuit because the parties in the lawsuit get the chance to ask the opposing party(ies) everything they can about the case. This ensures that all relevant evidence is uncovered.
Requests for information can take four different forms:
- Interrogatories: Written questions the parties ask one another
- Requests for admissions: Asking the other party to admit to certain assertions
- Requests for document production: Asking the other party to produce certain documents
- Depositions: Statements made under oath from witnesses and other relevant people about the case
Often, parties won’t agree on what is discoverable and what is not, so the court has to intervene and make a ruling. If the evidence supports it, when discovery ends, a party may ask the court throw the case out by filing a motion for summary judgment.
Resolving a lawsuit: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Trials, and Final judgements
Sometimes parties can resolve cases outside of court through negotiations known as Alternative Dispute Resolution. As courts become further backlogged each year, this option has become more popular.
If the parties can’t resolve their differences outside of court, the case will go to trial. At trial, all the evidence is heard by the court and arguments are made by the parties. Once everybody has had their say, the jury or judge will decide who wins the case and a final judgment will be entered. Sometimes judgments can be appealed to a higher court, but the vast majority of the time appeals are unsuccessful.
Evaluating You Own Liability
Sometimes no single party is 100% at fault for a commercial truck accident. This means that people who are injured, but who are partially responsible, can be compensated for their injuries at a reduced percentage if the facts of the case support it.
While there is no formula for how awards are handed down in commercial truck accident cases, there are certain rules that are applied. Having a talented personal injury lawyer representing your interests can be critical to the success of your claims.
Get a Personal Injury Lawyer on your side
Participating in a lawsuit can be a long process, and having a seasoned personal injury lawyer on your side will probably make things easier for you. Take control of your case by speaking to an experienced New York personal injury attorney at The Perecman Firm, PLLC today.