Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
You suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone else in Louisiana, and you want to obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic losses, as well as your pain and suffering. While you have every right to pursue compensation for your injuries, you need to understand the process so that you can get all you deserve.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
You only have a limited time to file your personal injury lawsuit in Louisiana. The state’s statute of limitations allows you one year from the date of your injury to file your personal injury lawsuit.
The statute of limitations may be extended if you did not discover your injury until considerable time had passed after your accident. In cases where an injury was not readily apparent, the statute does not begin until the date you discovered your injury or should have reasonably become aware of the connection between the defendant’s actions and your injury. The statute also makes exceptions in cases involving minor children and other circumstances, so it’s best to discuss your situation with an attorney as soon as possible.
Provided you are within the statute of limitations, you may file your lawsuit.
How Do I Prepare for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Before you can file your lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to gather information and prepare for the litigation to come. These are the initial steps.
Get medical treatment – Obtaining a medical evaluation and diagnosis of your injuries are critical in establishing your claim. Your doctor should have also provided a treatment plan during your visit, and you should follow this plan to the letter and make sure all medical care and treatment have been recorded in your medical history.
Establish liability – In order to file a lawsuit against another party for damages, you must establish they were responsible for your injuries. Different types of personal injury lawsuits rely on different standards of establishing liability, but you must be able to show that the defendant caused your injuries through their negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing.
Gather as much evidence as possible – You will want to provide as much evidence as you can about the accident and your injuries to help support your case. Obtain photos of the accident scene and any surveillance or other video that may show what happened. Gather witness testimony, police and accident reports, and even expert testimony that is pertinent to your case.
Calculate the value of your claim – You will need to determine the amount of compensation you are seeking. The value of your claim depends on the severity of your injuries and the duration of your treatment and subsequent healing, among other factors. Your attorney can assess all your losses, which could include medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earnings, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and disfigurement.
What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Once you know the amount you’ll pursue and have gathered evidence to support your claim, you are ready to file your lawsuit.
- File your Complaint – This is the document that begins the lawsuit. Once you have filed the Complaint, you must send it together with a Summons to the at-fault party. They have a limited amount of time in which to Answer your Complaint.
- The discovery phase begins – During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, both sides exchange information through Interrogatories, Requests for Production, and depositions. These documents allow each side to understand the evidence the other party has gathered and how they plan to present their case.
- Mediation – Before you go to trial, you might consider mediation. Mediation takes place in an informal setting. Both parties and their attorneys meet with an unbiased third party, the mediator, whose job it is to help the parties work to reach a conclusion. Mediation is often successful, but if it is not, the next step is trial.
- Trial – If you cannot reach an acceptable settlement agreement, you will take your case to trial. Trial can be risky. Unlike in a mediation, you have no control over the outcome. A judge or jury will hear your case and rule on it. Either party may appeal the decision.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
In order to increase your chances of obtaining the full amount of compensation you need, you should work with an experienced personal injury attorney. The Lake Charles personal injury lawyers of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC have helped thousands of clients across Louisiana with their personal injury lawsuits. You can contact us at 337-800-8800 to request a free consultation.