Understanding Who You Are Suing in a Personal Injury Case
Who is actually being sued in a personal injury case?
When suing someone in a personal injury case, it may seem like you’re suing that person directly, whether they’re an individual person or the leader of a small or large corporation. While it’s true that you are suing the individual person or business, they won’t be the ones to pay your settlement. People (and businesses) have insurance policies in place for this exact reason. In case someone gets hurt, whether it’s a slip and fall accident or an auto accident, the insurance company will be the people actually paying your settlement. However, the lawsuit must still name the at-fault party.
What is the personal injury lawsuit process?
Sometimes it can be hard to wrap your head around exactly what occurs during a lawsuit. We’ve seen it all in movies. However, there are more steps and important elements than you may actually know if you’re not a lawyer.
The Summons and Complaint
A complaint, sometimes referred to as a petition, is a legal document that identifies the basis for your lawsuit. The complaint will identify the plaintiff, the defendant, and the court you’re filing the lawsuit in. After that, the next few paragraphs will explain why the previously named defendant parties were culpable. Lastly, the document will state what relief the plaintiff is looking for, including the amount of money they want for compensation. This document must also include your signature and the signature of your attorney, if you have one.
A summons is the document that explains to the defendant that they’re being sued. At the time of filing these two documents, you may also need to pay a filing fee. These can range depending on the lawsuit, but generally range from $100 to $400.
Service of Process
Service of process occurs when the defendant is formally presented with the summons and the complaint. This process cannot be completed by someone who is a major party in the lawsuit, or anyone who is a minor. Professional process servers, court officials, or even law enforcement usually complete these. This process must take place within 30 days of filing the complaint and summons with the court.
The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time that can pass before filing a lawsuit. While each state is different, six years is generally the amount of time that is allowed in a personal injury case. The timer starts the moment you’re injured and if you don’t file before the statute of limitations ends, you will never be able to file for this case.
Defendant Response to the Complaint
After completing all the necessary steps, the defendant will respond to your complaint. There are two ways that this could go. In scenario one, the defendant files an answer to your complaint. They will either admit to or deny the claims you’ve made. They can also state that they can neither admit nor deny the claims. In scenario two, the defendant can file a motion to have the case dismissed. If they’re successful, the court may throw out your case.
How does a personal injury settlement work?
Personal injury settlements usually occur during pretrial, often as a last attempt to prevent a case from going to court. Settlement is when the sued party offers payment to the plaintiff. This payment likely comes from an insurance company and not the person themselves. While most settlements occur during pretrial, they can also occur before a lawsuit has been filed and after the claim arises. A settlement may also be offered if the court doesn’t return a final verdict after the trial begins. In some cases, settlements are also given after a trial while the jury is still deliberating.
After receiving a settlement, the plaintiff must sign a full reliability release. Basically, after receiving the settlement, the plaintiff must sign a document that states they will not be moving forward with the case or suing again in the future with the same claims.
How are insurance companies involved in a personal injury case?
No matter what, you’ll likely have to deal with an insurance company during your lawsuit. Insurance companies are highly involved in the court proceedings, and will likely participate in negotiation, determination of whether or not the claim is valid, recording statements, settlement, and more. The main thing to know is that insurance companies want to settle. They don’t want to have to deal with going to court, as they have many clients who may be in the same situation. Settlement means the case is over and they don’t have to deal with it anymore.
Why do a majority of personal injury cases settle?
With a lawsuit there’s a certain uncertainty. You don’t know until the jury decides exactly what the outcome is going to be. With settlement, no matter where it takes place in the process, you know exactly what you’re going to get out of it. It’s laid out in front of you, and it can be hard to turn down money when you’re not sure if you’ll even win your case.
How can a personal injury attorney help your claim?
Because personal injury cases can be difficult, with the involvement of insurance companies and other parties, it’s smart to hire an attorney who is talented in the world of personal injury. Luckily, our attorneys at Sand Law are ready and willing to take on your case. You want an attorney who knows how to negotiate, and can offer you guidance along the way. If you’re located in Minnesota, contact one of our personal injury lawyers for an evaluation of your case. You can contact us online or at 651-291-7263.