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two cars and a gavel


“If you’ve been in a car accident, injuries and damages to your car may have you thinking about whether you should sue the other driver…. If you are convinced you should, then you ought to learn about the sometimes long path you are about to tread,” warns attorneys.com. Auto accident lawsuits are civil lawsuits or tort cases, and they can go through as many as seven different stages:

  1. Filing

    You file a complaint, or petition, with the local court. (In Indiana, you’re required to file within two years of the date of the injury.)

  2. Response

    There will be a response to your claim, in which the defendant either admits or denies the allegations.The response may make counterclaims, showing how you – or even a third party – contributed to the accident. You will have a set period to respond to any counterclaims.

  3. Preliminary motions

    The other party may ask for a change of venue (moving the case to a different courthouse), a change of judge, moving the case from state court to federal court (if the defendant is from a different state or some federal law is involved). The other party may even make a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the lawsuit was not brought in a timely manner.

  4. Pre-trial practice

    The judge sets a date for trial (this may be as long as a year or more into the future), or might order you into mediation (you and your car accident attorney meet with the defendant and his or her lawyers for talks moderated by a neutral third party).

  5. Discovery

    Personal injury attorneys for both sides investigate the facts, examining documents  and  interviewing witnesses. The interviewees swear to tell the truth, and their answers are recorded by a stenographer. The documents produced in these “interrogatories” will be used at trial.

  6. Post-discovery resolutions

    If it appears that the evidence gathered strongly supports your case, you can bring a motion for summary judgment, asking the judge to decide the case without seeing live witnesses or conducting a hearing. The judge may grant the motion (agreeing there is no dispute over the facts of the case) or deny the motion, saying a trial is needed.

  7. Trial

    Your case may be decided at a bench trial (only a judge decides) or a jury trial (in which the judge decides which laws apply), but the jury makes the final decision.

As a personal injury attorney dealing in auto accident cases for more than forty years, I can tell you that few auto accident injury cases make it all the way to trial.  At any point along the way, the defense may offer to settle the case.  If you make the decision to accept the settlement agreement, the court is notified that the case has been resolved. Ramey & Hailey works extensively on accidents resulting in catastrophic or permanent loss involving driver and equipment error.

There may be as many as seven different stages to the process, but when insurance isn’t enough to compensate for your loss, our attorneys are there to see you get the recovery you deserve.

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