How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Posted on Saturday, November 20th, 2021 at 10:34 pm
If you have a personal injury claim against another party or parties, at some point you may need to file a lawsuit to pursue your claim. If you have never been involved in a civil lawsuit before, you should learn about what is involved in filing one.
How Do You Know You Have a Personal Injury Claim?
The first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is determining whether you have a viable personal injury claim. You may have a personal injury case if you suffered physical, emotional, or mental harm that would not have happened but for the actions or omissions of another party. The harm that you suffered must have caused you some sort of loss that you can be financially compensated for, such as medical bills, lost income, or even physical pain, emotional distress, and lost quality of life.
When Do You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In many personal injury cases, filing a lawsuit does not occur until some time after the start of the claims process. Many personal injury claims are resolved by settlement, so parties may attempt to reach a settlement through informal negotiations or by participating in mediation before a lawsuit is filed in their case. The parties in the case may wish to avoid the expense of a lawsuit if the case can be resolved in a settlement. However, if the injured party feels that a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, they may choose to file a lawsuit to pursue their claim.
In addition, even if settlement negotiations are progressing in a positive direction, a personal injury lawsuit may need to be filed if the statute of limitations deadline is approaching. The statute of limitations is a law that limits the time that an injured party has to file a lawsuit against those liable for their injuries and losses. In Texas, a personal injury lawsuit typically must be filed within two years of the date of injury. If you wait until after the statute of limitations expires to file a lawsuit, you risk having your lawsuit permanently dismissed and losing out on the opportunity to recover compensation for your injuries through the courts.
Steps in Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
To begin a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to file a document with the trial court known as a complaint. In the complaint, you identify yourself as the plaintiff and name the at-fault party or parties as defendants.
You must also set out, in paragraph form, the alleged underlying facts and the legal theories that you argue entitle you to compensation. This includes describing the circumstances that led to your injury, what the at-fault party did or didn’t do to cause your injuries and the legal principles that entitle you to compensation. Finally, you must also specify what kind of relief you are seeking from the court. In personal injury cases, this usually means identifying how much money you believe the defendant or defendants are legally obligated to pay you for your injuries.
After filing your complaint, the court will send you a document known as a summons. The summons identifies the parties to your personal injury lawsuit and explains to the defendant that they are being sued. You are required to serve a copy of your claim and the summons upon each defendant. If you do not properly serve a defendant, the court will not hear your claims against them.
Serving the complaint and summons usually involves hiring someone to hand-deliver the documents to the defendant, although alternative means of service can be authorized by the court if a defendant cannot be served in person. Service must occur within a certain time frame established by court rules, although courts will grant extensions if you have trouble serving a defendant.
Once the defendant is served with the complaint and summons, they will have the opportunity to file their own pleading document known as an answer. In the answer, the defendant will respond to each of the allegations in your complaint.
Contact Portner Bond, PLLC for Help with the Personal Injury Litigation Process
If you were injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and want to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, call the Beaumont personal injury attorneys of Portner Bond, PLLC at (409) 838-4444 or contact us through our website. You’ll get a free initial case evaluation. We can help you understand your legal rights and options for filing suit, and discuss how our firm can guide you through the litigation process. Don’t wait. Call today.