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Allentown Personal Injury Lawyer Shares Steps of a Personal Injury Case

Dec 31, 2021 - Personal Injury

According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School (LLI), a personal injury, in its legal context, include[s] every variety of injury to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation, as contradistinguished from injury to property rights.” The LLI goes on to describe the grounds upon which personal injury claims may be brought:

“There are three grounds on which personal injury claims can be brought:

  1. Negligence. Negligence is the most common basis for personal injury claims. The basis for liability under negligence stems from an individual’s failure…to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. For example, a hunter who carelessly shoots his gun towards other people. 
  2. Strict Liability. Strict Liability holds a defendant liable for committing an action, regardless of what his/her intent or mental state was when committing the action. For example, if an injury occurs as a result of a defect in a product, the manufacturer is responsible for that injury even though they did not act negligently or intend for their product to cause harm. 
  3. Intentional Wrongs result from an intentional act of the defendant. Common intentional torts are battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattels, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Personal injury claims are among the most common types of legal claims that can be brought. More specifically, personal injuries may be the result of a motor vehicle accident, dog attack, medical negligence, a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, a dangerous product defect, or a work injury. If you’ve been injured in some way, or if a loved one has been lost as a result of one of the three circumstances described above, an Allentown personal injury lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis can help.

The Basic Steps in a Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury claims commonly follow a predictable series of steps, including the following.

A Person (Plaintiff) is Injured in One of the Circumstances Described Above

Any legitimate personal injury claim revolves around some type of injury to the plaintiff that was caused by someone else’s negligence, strict liability, or intentional wrongful acts, even if the injury may or may not be legally compensable.

The Plaintiff Retains the Services of an Allentown Personal Injury Lawyer Who Has a History of Success, Such as Those at Drake, Hileman & Davis

The plaintiff schedules and meets with an attorney for a free consultation, during which time the attorney will gather the facts. Either during the consultation or shortly thereafter, the attorney will provide the plaintiff with questions, answers, and some type of estimated chances of success. If the case appears to be winnable, the plaintiff will sign up for the attorney’s services, since no risk is involved.

The Attorney Files a Complaint on the Plaintiff’s Behalf

The complaint is the initiating document that lays out the plaintiff’s claims and is served upon the appropriate court and the opposing party (Defendant). The allegations contained in the complaint are very general and open-ended because all of the specific facts are yet to be determined.

Negotiations May Be Initiated

If the evidence against the defendant is very clear and the defendant knows he or she will almost certainly be found liable, they may initiate negotiations in hope of obtaining some compromises and saving the money that they would have to spend by extending the matter. Keep in mind that settlement negotiations may start at this point in the dispute (or maybe even before), but a case can be settled at any time. In fact, it’s not unusual for a settlement to be reached even as the factfinder (i.e., judge or jury) is deliberating its decision.

The Defendant Files an Answer

Upon service of the complaint to the defendant, the defendant must file an answer, denying some allegations, admitting other allegations, putting many allegations on hold with language such as “Defendant lacks sufficient information to either affirm or deny this allegation.” The answer will also include any affirmative defenses that may be used.

Pre-Trial Litigation, Otherwise Known as “Law and Motion” Practice

Before the trial begins, during the time before or during discovery, any number of motions may be filed and argued in court, including lack of jurisdiction, improper venue, failure to state a legal claim, and various motions under the general umbrella of a motion to dismiss.

Discovery

Discovery is the process through which all parties involved gather information relevant to the dispute. There are several ways in which information may be gathered during discovery:

Discovery orders may be contested by either party for any number of reasons, such as relevance or burdensome. If the judge believes a party is willfully trying to avoid or unreasonably delay the discovery process, he or she may impose sanctions that typically have to be paid by the lawyer rather than the client.

Trial

Finally, the trial will begin and, for a typical personal injury case, last at least several days. If any given case is complicated by a large number of parties, issues, or complications, it may be classified as “complex” litigation, which carries additional rules, and may last for several years. These types of trials, however, are most commonly commercial business disputes rather than personal injury claims.

Appeals

If the losing party feels that the judge made a mistake that had a significant effect on the outcome of the trial, they may appeal the judge’s decision. The appeals process is long, complicated, and carries a poor success rate, and therefore should not be entered into lightly.

An Allentown Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help if You’ve Suffered an Injury

The vast majority of personal injury disputes end in settlements, but unlike many attorneys who simply count on a settlement, an Allentown personal injury lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis will begin preparing your case immediately as if you are going to trial. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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Drake, Hileman & Davis

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