People often wonder if they should file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their injuries. Sadly, some are so intimidated by the entire legal process that they choose not to do so.
Intimidation frequently stems from ignorance. In other words, the more you know about the process of filing a lawsuit, the less likely you are to feel threatened by it.
With that in mind, I will now provide a brief synopsis of the phases of a Las Vegas personal injury lawsuit.
First consultation. You make an appointment to speak with a personal injury attorney. He or she listens to your situation and ask questions. If the lawyer accepts your case, you sign a retainer agreement.
Filing papers with the court. Your attorney files your complaint with the Clark County Court and a summons is issued to the defendants declaring that they are being sued.
Discovery. During this fact-finding stage, your attorney questions witnesses in writing and/or face-to-face in depositions. Documents pertaining to the matter are also requested for review.
Hearing of pretrial motions. Both sides’ attorneys appear before a Clark County judge to hash out any procedural issues pertaining to the case (evidence, venue, witness relevance, etc.)
Negotiating a settlement. Most cases do not proceed past this phase. The two sides usually meet in an effort to determine a fair settlement for your injuries without going to trial. Your attorney may advise you on this, but you have the final say as to whether or not to accept any settlement.
Trial proceedings. You and your attorney appear in court along with the defendants and their legal team. Both sides have the opportunity to argue their case, question and cross-examine witnesses, and discuss evidence. A judge or jury then renders a verdict.
Judgment collection. If you are awarded a judgment, then you and your attorney initiate proceedings to collect the money you are entitled to.
Appeals process. If you are not satisfied with the verdict, you have the right to appeal it to a higher court (as do the defendants). The appellate court may or may not choose to grant that appeal.
Hopefully, this sheds some light on the phases of a personal injury lawsuit and demystifies the entire process somewhat. If you have any questions about any of these phases, your personal injury lawyer can answer them for you.