Generally, the first step is to file a formal legal complaint to the court and to the liable party. After the complaint has been filed, a hearing date is set. The next step is the discovery process. During discovery, all evidence is shared between both sides and the court. During discovery, you may be asked to be deposed for testimony by the defendant or even by your own attorney. Witnesses and passengers may also be deposed. Depending on the severity of the accident, experts may be brought in for depositions or to give testimony.
After discovery, if a pretrial settlement is not reached, you will start hearings. The trial can either be decided by a judge or jury, depending on what option your lawyer feels is likely to benefit you more. During the hearings, the judge or jury will hear arguments from both sides, review all documents and evidence, and make a final decision. This final decision is completely up to the jurors or judge who participate in the hearing. If either party is not satisfied with the decision, it can be appealed. If appealed, the trial will be moved to the appellate courts where it will go through another trial process.
The process of an auto accident lawsuit can be extremely time-consuming and potentially expensive. Trials can take days to weeks. Court costs add up quickly, and while our personal injury team works on contingency, these costs still come out of the final settlement or award. You should consider these factors before deciding whether or not to take a pre-trial settlement.
How Involved Should I be in My Case?
That decision is almost entirely up to you. Auto accident attorneys appreciate clients who are helpful and comfortable expressing their concerns. But remember, as your legal representative we have your best interests in mind. One of the biggest advantages of hiring an auto accident lawyer is having a legal expert who is able to look at your situation from an objective view – leaving emotions out of decision-making. With that being said, participation is encouraged. A client’s personal testimony, evidence from the scene, and input on decision-making can be very helpful. At TorHoerman Law, we never want to give our clients the impression that their participation is discouraged, and we never want our clients to feel “out-of-the-loop” when it comes to their case. If you ever have these feelings of disconnect, you can feel free to reach out to your attorney and express your concerns. With all the work that goes into an auto accident lawsuit, it is easy to forget to keep clients completely up-to-date with their cases.