A personal injury lawsuit is a civil action or legal dispute between a plaintiff who claims injury and a defendant who is being sued based on the plaintiff’s theory that, because of a harm or injury caused by the defendant, compensatory damages are owed to recover monetary damages from such losses as medical expenses, lost wages, or repair or replacement of property as well as payment of non-monetary damages for losses such as pain and suffering. Though personal injury cases are unique in nature due to the individual parties and events involved, there are certain common elements to every personal injury lawsuit.
The Personal Injury
A personal injury lawsuit requires some initial accident or event as a source of the harm or injury. There are many different situations that can result in the need to pursue a personal injury case which can include a car accident, medical malpractice, slip and fall, dog bites, assaults or abuses including elder neglect, child abuse, and domestic violence, school or daycare accidents, wrongful deaths, wrongful termination, sports injury claims, employment discrimination, and class action suits.1
Stages of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After an injury has occurred, the initial steps require notifying emergency services, seeking medical treatment, notifying insurance companies in the event of an auto or home accident, choosing an attorney to consult with, and hiring an attorney to represent your interests and rights.2 An attorney who takes on your case will need to investigate to determine what happened during the accident, understand your background, and understand any losses suffered as a result of the accident or injury.3 This investigation will aid an attorney in making a determination as to whether there is a claim worth pursuing. An accident that resulted in minor injury or loss may encourage an attorney to negotiate or settle prior to filing any claims with the court.4 In the event that settlement is not reasonable, a case will proceed through a series of steps including filling of a lawsuit with the court, conducting investigations during the discovery process, engaging in mediation and negotiation with the aim of securing a pre-trial settlement, and eventually presenting a claim at trial.5
The Trial Process
The plaintiff who files a personal injury lawsuit and proceeds to trial has the objection and obligation to prove based on a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is legally responsible for the harm or injury at case. During the course of trial, there will typically be six phases. First, a jury is chosen through a process of questioning conducted by both side’s attorneys.6 Second, attorneys make opening statements which as the first courtroom dialogue aim to present facts, give interpretation of facts, set a stage for evidence to be presented during trial, and set up as well as demonstrate the basic arguments.7 Thirdly, witness testimony will be made alongside the corresponding swearing in process, direct-examination, and cross-examination of witnesses.8 Next, closing arguments will be made by both sides serving to recap evidence, provide a summary, and show why a case should be decided in a particular way.9 The final two stages of a trial are focused on the role of the jury which includes providing instructions and allowing for deliberations as well as the resulting verdict.10
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have been involved in an accident or in some way were personally harmed, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.