All car crashes have the potential to cause substantial property damage, personal injuries, and even deaths. However, accidents that involve 18 wheelers are more likely than most to be more serious. That’s why it’s important for drivers to understand what steps they will need to take to hold those responsible legally liable and get the compensation they need to deal with injuries, property damage, and their psychological effects. Read on to find out about the four stages of the 18 wheeler personal injury litigation process to get started.
Stage One: Filing Documents
Once drivers have retained a lawyer, he or she will draft a petition that explains what happened, what damages were suffered, and what kind of compensation is being sought. Clients will be asked to provide documents such as their licenses, insurance information, and, if available, photographs of the accident scene and contact information for witnesses.
A lawyer will file all the documents for his or her client and serve the driver, his company, and other responsible parties. The person, people, or businesses being sued must be served to ensure due process. Once the responsible party or parties receive notification that they are being sued, they usually have three to four weeks to respond to the complaint. Accident victims can get more details about how to get this process started by contacting a personal injury lawyer.
Stage Two: Discovery
The discovery period is one of the most critical parts of any personal injury lawsuit. It gives both the plaintiff and the defendant time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the case. The defendants will be compelled to answer discovery requests and the accident victim will need to respond to questions about liability and damages.
Many accident victims require medical care following their injuries. They should seek the care they need throughout the discovery period and file affidavits containing the medical records and bills from these doctors’ visits.
Stage Three: Pretrial
The pretrial period begins when a pretrial order is filed. During this stage, the plaintiff should continue to seek medical care and update affidavit filings as needed. His or her lawyer will help with filing affidavits and pretrial motions, setting up the case for trial, and preparing clients for required mediation sessions. Filing deadlines, evidence, trial dates, and depositions are all determined during the pretrial phase of litigation.
Stage Four: Trial
The trial phase is when both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence that supports their cases to a court to obtain a jury verdict. In many cases, lawyers can come to an agreement during pretrial mediation proceedings that avoid the need for a long and stressful trial, but sometimes there’s no avoiding it. That’s why plaintiffs should take the time to prepare themselves and should ensure that their lawyers have adequate trial experience.
If the trial doesn’t go in a plaintiff’s favor, he or she will have the opportunity to file an appeal. Lawyers will handle the filing, but plaintiffs should expect to continue working with their legal representatives during the appeal process.
The Bottom Line
Victims of 18 wheeler accidents deserve access to the compensation they need to pay hospital bills, make up for lost wages, and ensure the best chances of healing properly. Accident victims who have yet to hire personal injury lawyers should do so as soon as possible and should follow all of their advice throughout the litigation process.