For many people involved in a car accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, the last thing they think of is filing a lawsuit for sustaining injuries in the wreck. But, when you are injured in an accident, your world can change quickly.
As a result of your injuries, you may have to take time off work to recover and to attend medical appointments. You may need surgery and medication, which is expensive. You may have to miss work for a long period of time, and you may not have the capacity to return to regular employment. But, you still need to support your family and pay the bills, and to help you get compensation, you may need to file a lawsuit.
Can You Negotiate on Your Own?
If you are insured, you probably assume that you are in good hands, and you may want to try and negotiate for compensation alone. But, this is not always the case, and you will usually need the help of an experienced Charlotte personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
- The Claims Process
Once you approach an attorney for help when you have been hurt in a car accident, they will take care of the claims process. It may not even be necessary to go to court, but if the insurance companies are not willing to pay a fair amount after good faith negotiations, you may well have to go to court.
The initial phase in the process is the at-fault insurance company contacting your lawyer to offer a settlement amount. Typically, this first offer is far less than what you need, so your lawyer will negotiate for a more fair payment amount. Should negotiations break down and no agreement can be reached, the next option will be to file a civil lawsuit.
- Filing a Lawsuit in Charlotte, North Carolina
If you are the injured party, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You will be referred to as the plaintiff and the at-fault driver is the defendant. Once you file the lawsuit, it is served on the defendant and he or she has a period of time in which to answer the lawsuit and allegations there in.
- The Discovery Phase
Once the defendant has filed his or her answer, both parties may exchange discovery. This happens prior to going to trial and it is when both parties obtain information from one another. This may include a list of written questions and requests for various documents. Discovery can go back and forth between the sides for up to several months at a time. The idea is to get all the necessary information to support your case.
Once the written discovery phase has been completed, it is time for depositions. This will not happen in front of a judge or in a courtroom, but rather in an office, and is an attempt to get ready for the trial. During the deposition, the defense’s attorney will ask questions about the case, your lost wages, medical treatments, and other relevant items. Your personal injury attorney in Charlotte will attend the deposition with you and will be able to object to any questions that they deem irrelevant. Your attorney will also ask the defendant questions and any witnesses are also deposed. The deposition testimony is typically given before a court reporter who will then put together a transcript of the meeting.
- The Mediation Phase
Your personal injury case will either be filed in a Superior or District Court. If it is filed in a Superior Court, you will be requested to attend mediation after the discovery phase. This is a settlement meeting that also takes place in an office setting.
During mediation, a neutral third party who is usually an attorney, too, will attempt to bring you and the defendant to an agreeable solution. You and the defendant will have the chance to present your sides of the case to the mediator. He or she will then explain the mediator role and try to bring you both to an agreeable resolution.
Once you have both presented your sides, you will go into separate rooms. The mediator will go between rooms to discuss and negotiate each party’s position, including both offers and counteroffers. Many cases are often resolved during mediation.
However, if the case is filed in a District Court in North Carolina, the pretrial process is a little more complicated. You may be required to go before an arbitrator who will conduct a brief hearing and decide the outcome of the case. But, the arbitrator’s decision is not binding and you or the defendant can appeal the decision and request a trial by jury.
- Trial by Jury
If you fail to settle your case through mediation or an arbitrator’s decision is appealed, the final step is a trial by jury. But, don’t enter into the litigation process assuming you are going to settle for a great deal of money. Litigation is a daunting and complex process that you will need to be committed to. An experienced personal injury attorney will be ready and willing to go to trial for you and fight for what you potentially deserve.
Make Sure You Have an Attorney on Your Side
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you are going to need compensation to pay for your injuries and time missed from work. Filing a lawsuit does not always mean you will land in court, and many cases are often resolved before it gets that far.
The team of lawyers at Remington & Dixon have years of experience fighting for client’s fair compensation when they have been injured in a car accident. We know that the legal process is a scary and time-consuming one, which is why we will take care of it every step of the way. Book a consultation with a Charlotte attorney today by calling us at 704.247.7110.