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The Three Main Phases of a Car Accident Lawsuit

A car accident claim is a type of personal injury claim that will unfold in civil court. If you recently suffered injuries and financial losses in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, their available insurance coverage may not be enough to fully cover your damages. In this situation, you can pursue a car accident lawsuit to recover the remainder of your losses. While a car accident case may seem open-and-shut at first glance, even a seemingly straightforward car accident claim can evolve into a complicated legal battle. You should have an idea of what to expect with your claim and an understanding of the three basic phases of a car accident lawsuit.

Phase One: Pre-Trial

The first step in any car accident lawsuit is the plaintiff’s filing of the Complaint. The plaintiff and their Redlands car accident attorney will draft a Complaint and submit it to the local court, which in turn will officially serve the Complaint to the defendant named within it. This provides the defendant the opportunity to provide an Answer, where they may accept or deny responsibility for the plaintiff’s claimed damages. The defendant may also accept responsibility but dispute the plaintiff’s terms of settlement. At this juncture, the pre-trial phase may either lead to settlement negotiations or the litigation phase.

If both parties are open to the idea of an out-of-court settlement, they will meet with their legal representatives and negotiate the terms of the settlement. This is generally favorable to both sides, as the defendant can quickly put the issue to rest. In this situation, the plaintiff can recover compensation more quickly than a lengthy trial would allow. Additionally, settlement keeps the final decision in the hands of the parties involved instead of a judge. If settlement negotiations fail, the case will proceed to the second phase.

Phase Two: Litigation

When settlement negotiations prove fruitless, or the parties involved in the car accident lawsuit refuse to settle, the case will proceed to the litigation phase. Both sides of the case have the right to interview witnesses and take sworn depositions. They also have the right to cross-examination and must perform Discovery with one another. This means the sharing of all documentation and physical evidence, so all parties involved in the case have equal access to material information about the case.

The litigation phase may also include the filing of pre-trial motions, such as motions to dismiss and motions to address procedural errors on the part of either party. There could also be pre-trial hearings in some cases, and lawsuits involving multiple defendants are likely to entail significant litigation time.

Phase Three: Trial

Once the litigation process concludes, the car accident lawsuit can proceed to the final trial phase. At this time, the parties involved in the lawsuit will make their cases in open court before a judge and jury of their peers. The jury will analyze the evidence and testimony in play to render a verdict, and the judge has the final say when it comes to awarding compensation and assigning penalties under California law. It’s vital to have reliable representation from a Redlands car accident attorney if you expect your car accident claim to reach the trial phase.

What Can Happen After My Car Accident Lawsuit Trial?

After a jury has rendered their verdict in your car accident lawsuit and the judge has made their decree, your case could end, or it may lead to an appeals process. A car accident lawyer in the Redlands will help you determine when and if you should appeal the court’s decision on your case, and the appeals process generally involves bringing your case before a higher court for them to review the verdict. While it is rare that a higher court overturns a lower court’s decision on a civil claim, it can happen, and the appeals process is truly the only real method of challenging the court’s decision in your civil case.

The ideal outcome of a car accident lawsuit is that you receive the compensation you need to recover from your losses as fully as possible. Your Redlands car accident lawyer can potentially help you secure compensation for medical bills, lost wages from your recovery time, and the cost of damage to your personal property. If you suffered severe injuries or developed a disability from your accident, you may be able to secure pain and suffering compensation and reimbursement for your lost future earning potential.

If you are thinking about pursuing a personal injury lawsuit for a recent car accident, the right car accident lawyer in the Redlands can help you build a solid case and maximize your recovery. If you would like to discuss your lawsuit with an experienced Redlands car accident attorney, contact Peach & Weathers to schedule a consultation today.

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