Personal Injury Law Process
There is no single uniform litigation process for personal injury cases in Nebraska. But there are many similarities among the cases and several steps that are common to all personal injury cases.
What Kicks off a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case usually begins after someone suffers a personal injury. There needs to be proof that someone has suffered an injury. If there is no such proof, then the plaintiff (the individual who is injured) may lose the case during the summary judgment phase when the defendant (the person being accused of committing the injury) argues that the case should be dismissed because there is no evidence of an injury.
A personal injury case formally begins when an injured individual files a legal complaint in the appropriate civil court claiming that an injury has occurred and who is responsible, among other details.
It is very important that a complaint be filed within the statute of limitations. For most personal injuries, you cannot recover if you miss the deadline to file a claim. You must file your complaint usually within two years of the injury but this will depend on the injury so consult with an attorney.
Once the complaint is filed, the defendants will usually have one month to file a response. During this time, the defendant will likely be searching for and hiring an attorney so that they respond to the complaint within the appropriate timeframe.
In many cases, failing to file a response on time can result in a default judgment, which automatically grants the plaintiff the award that they requested in their complaint.
After a complaint is filed, there are three broad phases of the personal injury process, including pre-trial litigation, trial and the appeals stage.
If you know that you have been injured and would like to discuss your case today, call 1-877-537-4665.
During the pre-trial litigation phase, both sides will attempt to gather evidence, interview witnesses, conduct depositions, hire experts, and conduct discovery to maximize their legal positions.
There are many motions flying back-and-forth during the pre-trial litigation stage with both sides attempting to dismiss one another’s claims, suppress evidence and in general attempt to change the potential outcome of this case.
At this stage, both parties will be trying to gather the kind of information that provides negotiating leverage
Settlement Talks/ Mediation
During either court-mandated or voluntary discussions, the two sides may also be in a mediation process or negotiation to see if the parties can settle the case without going to a full trial. Trials can take months or years. They are time intensive and quite expensive. Both sides may have a valid reason to avoid a trial.
Plaintiffs who would like to resolve the case and move on with their lives may be in favor of a quick resolution. Similarly, defendants may want to avoid both the costs of the trial and the consequences of losing in front of a jury that may award the plaintiffs a significantly larger settlement.
Additionally, while a jury award and finding in favor of the plaintiff will result in a finding of a legal liability, defendants can often settle cases confidentially and without admitting legal fault, thereby avoiding the public relations disaster that often accompanies losing in a jury trial.
If the pre-trial litigation, mediation and negotiation phases fail to resolve a personal injury dispute, the parties will often move to the trial stage.
Depending on the jurisdiction, the caseload of the relevant courts and the complex nature of the personal injury claim, a trial may take anywhere from a few days to a few years to be fully resolved.
At trial, attorneys will go through several steps, including:
- Select a jury
- Conduct opening statements
- Call witnesses
- Cross-examine witnesses
- Call expert witnesses
- Cross-examine expert witnesses
- Conduct closing arguments
- Jury receives instructions
- Jury deliberates
- Jury issues a verdict
During the trial, the attorneys will also be making extensive objections, submitting motions and attempting to disqualify one another’s witnesses and evidence. This can significantly add to the length of a trial.
Regardless of which side wins, either side may appeal some or all of the findings of the jury trial. This means that the process does not end at trial. The appeals process can significantly extend the length of the personal injury case as each side appeals the findings at each state.
Because the Supreme Court of the United States accepts very few cases on appeal, most state law cases end at the state Supreme Court level. If your case is appealed in this state and it is a state law case, chances are it will end at the Supreme Court of Nebraska.
Most federal cases end up at the circuit court level of appeals stage if the case is not accepted forcertiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that among the trial court, intermediary appeals court and the final appeals court, there are usually three levels of court that may address a case.
If the case is accepted for further adjudication by the Supreme Court of the United States, than there may be potentially four different courts that attempt to resolve your personal injury claim.
Inkelaar Law: Nebraska Personal Injury Law Firm
When selecting a personal injury law firm, you want to know that they excel at every stage of the personal injury process.
Skilled personal injury attorneys at Inkelaar Law can resolve all of your personal injury legal concerns. If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of someone else, get the legal help that you deserve.
After an accident or injury, please call 1-877-537-4665 or fill out the FREE Case Evaluation form.