The Personal Injury Lawsuit & Trial Process
The prospect of a personal injury lawsuit might be so intimidating that it makes you wonder if it will be worth it. Will your time and energy be best spent on moving forward with a personal injury lawsuit? A skilled attorney from Kisling, Nestico & Redick can take care of the legal side of things during a personal injury lawsuit.
While a lot will depend on your situation, at Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we can tell you that the personal injury process is often the best way to obtain compensation after being seriously injured in an accident. And to make the legal process less frightening, we are prepared to guide you through it with skill and compassion.
To learn more about personal injury lawsuits and trials, contact us at 1-800-HURT-NOW.
The Statute of Limitations
Under Ohio law, you have two years from the date your cause of action arises to file a personal injury claim. In a majority of cases, the date the cause of action arises is the day of the accident. That is because your injuries were apparent immediately following the accident, even if the extent of your injuries takes time to deduce.
There are circumstances though when the date your cause of action arises is after the day of the accident. If you did not discover you were injured until days or weeks later, then the date of your diagnosis is likely the day the statute of limitations begins to run.
Filing the Lawsuit
If you do not accept a settlement offer right away, then you may want to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit. Now is the time to hire an attorney, if you have not done so yet. To begin the lawsuit, your attorney will prepare the complaint, which is a document that lays out your accusations against the defendant and asks for compensation to redress your injuries. You then file the complaint with the clerk of the court in the appropriate jurisdiction.
Trial by Judge or Jury
When you file your lawsuit, your attorney will specify whether you wish to have a trial by jury or whether you waive your right to a jury trial and choose to have your case decided by a judge. In some regions, you may have a greater likelihood of a higher award through a jury. However, this is not always true. In some areas, jurors are typically skeptical of personal injury claims. Whether you would prefer a judge or jury deciding your case depends on a number of factors, which you should discuss with your attorney.
Service of Process
After filing, you are responsible for serving the defendants with a copy of the complaint and the summons to court. This includes more than simply mailing the documents to them. There are procedural rules that outline how service of process must be performed, including who can serve the documents and who can accept them. An attorney can ensure service is completed properly.
The longest phase of a personal injury lawsuit is the discovery process. During this time, each side has the ability to seek information, documentation, and testimony from each other and third parties. Your attorney will use this opportunity to investigate the accident further and to gather evidence in support of your case. It is also the time to learn if there is an evidence against your claim that could hurt your chances at trial.
During a pre-trial conference, your attorney and the other party’s attorney meet with the judge to discuss aspects of the case. Judges use pre-trial conferences for a number of purposes, including setting dates for the beginning and end discovery, setting deadlines for pleadings prior to trial, encouraging a settlement, and scheduling trial. These seem mundane, but can save a great deal of time prior to a trial. If you go to trial, your attorney does not have to waste time. Whether or not there are one or multiple pre-trial conferences for your personal injury claim depends on the circumstances.
The Personal Injury Trial
Once it is decided you will move forward with a trial, discovery will formally end and your attorney will begin to prepare. All trials follow the same steps. If there is to be a jury, then your attorney and the other party’s lawyer will go through the process of voir dire. This is when the judge and attorneys ask prospective jurors questions to determine who will sit on the jury.
Once the jury is finalized, trial begins with opening statements. Your attorney will go first and outline the upcoming case and burden of proof. After opening statements, each side is given the opportunity to present evidence and question witnesses. Your attorney will do so first. When your attorney finishes presenting your case, then the defendant has the opportunity to present evidence and bring up its witnesses. After the defendant is finished, both attorneys have the opportunity to present their closing arguments.
Your Role at Trial
The actual trial for your case can be stressful. However, you will likely be a bystander for most of the proceedings. Your attorney will be well prepared to do the talking. You may only need to speak when you are called to testify.
You will not have to figure out what to do or say the day of your testimony. Your attorney will have worked with you beforehand, preparing you to answer questions. The other side’s attorney will also be able to question you during cross-examination. While your attorney cannot predict this lawyer’s exact questions, they will coach you on what will probably be asked and how to best answer. You will practice answering questions calmly and succinctly.
Getting to a Verdict
Once both attorneys have given their closing statements, it is time to wait for the outcome of your case. If there is a jury, then the judge will give the jury instructions as to the elements necessary to decide the case in your favor as well as instructions on how to determine the value of your injuries. Once the jury has been instructed, it will be left to deliberate in private. Civil cases in Ohio do not require a unanimous verdict, but instead a super majority. Usually, six of the eight jurors must agree to the verdict. However, if you do not have a jury, then the judge will deliberate as to whether your attorney has successfully proven your case.
Our Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help
If you have been injured in an accident and want to pursue the compensation you need to recover, call Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW. Our Ohio personal injury lawyers have years of experience in the courtroom, specifically handling personal injury claims, providing aggressive representation for individuals during the insurance claims process and litigation.