How to file personal injury lawsuitFiling a personal injury lawsuit can be intimidating. In theory, filing a suit seems easy. You file documents that inform the court and the person you are suing of the basis for bringing your case. However, most non-lawyers do not know how to navigate this process or what to expect.

Working with a qualified personal injury lawyer is the best option to ensure your case is handled carefully and precisely. Your lawyer can ensure that you are fulfilling all procedural requirements. Not following the correct process could endanger an otherwise strong case. So legal counsel is particularly important if you are unfamiliar with personal injury law.

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, there are several important things to keep in mind:

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

All jurisdictions have a statute of limitations or a time in which you are allowed to file a lawsuit. Every state in the United States has its own statute of limitations. The personal injury statute of limitations in Texas is two years from the accident date. That means your lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of your injury. If you miss that deadline, your case could be dismissed regardless of its merit.

Filing a Complaint

After you’ve figured out the statute of limitations deadline, the next step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is to file the complaint with the court physically. The complaint is a formal document outlining the legal reasons for filing a lawsuit and the facts underpinning the case.

You are known as the plaintiff as the person filing the case. The complaint will identify you, the defendant (the person you are filing the complaint against), and the court in which you are filing the lawsuit. In a personal injury lawsuit, you must declare that the other party has committed negligent actions, explain what they were, and state that you are seeking relief, including the amount of money you are pursuing. Your compensation will be called “damages.”

Serving the Defendant

Serving the DefendantMany courts require you to file a summons. This document identifies all parties in your suit and explains to those you are suing that they are being sued. The lawsuit must be served on the defendant, known in legal circles as “service of process.”

Service of process means that the defendant, or the defendant’s representative, physically receives the documents specifying that they are being sued. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the case, professional process servers and even law enforcement can become involved. This is a necessary step to get your case moving.

Understanding Any Unique Factors That Relate to the Party You Are Suing

If you are suing a professional, such as a doctor, there may be additional legal steps you will need to take to file a suit successfully. In the case of professional malpractice, you must file a document known as a Certificate of Merit or an Affidavit of Merit. That would be signed by another expert in the same field as the person you are suing. If witnesses are involved, expert witnesses may also be called in depending on the nature of the injuries or if you are filing a claim against someone in their professional capacity.

Defendants Responding to Your Complaint

Once you file all of the necessary documentation and the defendant is served, the defendant will have a chance to respond. If the defendant answers the claims directly, they will file a document with the court that responds to the allegations, choosing to admit or deny each. The defendant also has the option to neither admit nor deny the allegation. The defendant may also file a motion to dismiss the complaint altogether. A court may grant this motion, throwing out your complaint or at least part of it.

Get Help Today

If this seems like a lot to handle, that is because it is. Qualified personal injury attorneys rack up years of education studying the law because, on top of all the procedural knowledge outlined above comes the knowledge of the law necessary to prove your claim. Claims are often far more complicated than the basic procedure outlined above, with mediation, securing court dates, and trial best handled by a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.

With a trusted personal injury lawyer on your side, you can navigate your case with confidence. Call the Texas personal injury lawyers of Gibson Hill Personal Injury today at 512-580-8334 for a free initial consultation.

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