Sustaining a personal injury can be a challenging and traumatic experience. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
Pennsylvania’s personal injury litigation process follows specific procedures outlined by state statutes. This blog will guide you through and provide insights into the critical stages of the personal injury litigation process.
Personal Injury Litigation Process
Consultation and Investigation:
The first step in pursuing a personal injury claim is consulting with an experienced attorney. They will evaluate your case’s merits, assess the damages, and advise you on the potential legal options. During this stage, gathering all relevant documentation, such as medical records, accident reports, and any other evidence supporting your claim, is essential.
Pennsylvania Statute: Title 42, Chapter 55, Section 5524(a) establishes a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, meaning you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.
Once your claim is ready, we will submit a demand package for the insurance company to evaluate. This is our chance to put our spin on your claim and convince the insurance company of the seriousness of your injuries. If we (meaning you and us) can’t reach an agreement with the insurance company, we will proceed to litigation by filing a complaint.
Filing the Complaint:
Once you decide to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will draft a formal complaint outlining the details of your case and file it with the appropriate court. The complaint typically describes the incident, the parties involved, the injuries sustained, and the damages sought.
Pennsylvania Statute: Title 42, Chapter 55, Section 5502 provides the legal basis for filing a personal injury complaint, stating that a plaintiff may bring an action to recover damages for injuries caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another person.
After filing the complaint, the discovery phase begins. This stage allows both parties to gather evidence, exchange information, and depose witnesses through written interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions. Discovery helps to build a solid case by uncovering relevant facts, identifying witnesses, and obtaining expert opinions if necessary.
Pennsylvania Statute: Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure govern the discovery process in Pennsylvania, providing guidelines for exchanging information and evidence between parties.
Negotiations and Settlement:
During the discovery phase or even before, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations. In many cases, insurance companies representing the defendant will attempt to reach a settlement to avoid the costs and uncertainties of trial. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf, aiming to secure a fair settlement that adequately compensates you for your injuries and damages.
While no specific statute governs settlements, Pennsylvania courts generally encourage parties to attempt settlement negotiations before proceeding to trial.
Pretrial Proceedings and Mediation:
If settlement negotiations fail, the case will proceed to pretrial proceedings, including motions, hearings, and conferences. These aim to resolve any outstanding legal issues and prepare the case for trial. In some cases, the court may order mediation, where a neutral third party facilitates negotiations between the parties to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.
Pennsylvania Statute: Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1920.51, provides alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures, such as mediation, to help parties settle their disputes before trial.
If the case goes to trial, both sides present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimony before a judge or jury. The plaintiff has the burden of proving the defendant’s liability and the damages suffered. The judge or jury will then decide based on the presented evidence and applicable Pennsylvania laws.
Pennsylvania Statute: Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically Rule 1021, outline the procedures for conducting a trial in civil cases.
Navigating the personal injury litigation process in Pennsylvania can be complex and challenging. However, understanding the key stages outlined above can help you prepare for what to expect. It is crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through each step and ensure your rights are protected. By familiarizing yourself with relevant Pennsylvania statutes and following the proper procedures, you can effectively pursue a personal injury claim and seek the compensation you deserve.
Advocating for You After a Personal Injury
At The Law Offices of Mitchell Clair, we’ll never treat you like just another case number. With over 33 years of courtroom experience, we provide tremendous value to our clients with open, honest, and compassionate support, plus affordable rates and retainer fees.
Your success is our success. We strive to get to know each of our clients personally so that we can tailor our approach to suit your needs. Contact our personal injury law firm at (610) 940-5400 today for more information or to schedule an appointment.