In a Personal Injury Case, What Does Litigation Mean?
Litigation is the process of settling a dispute through the courts. In a personal injury case, litigation involves filing a legal complaint, called a lawsuit, against a person or entity to obtain compensation for the harm they’ve caused you. Call the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato at (954) 633-8270 to find out more.
Does a Personal Injury Case Have to Involve a Lawsuit?
Most personal injury cases do not start in litigation. Instead, an injury victim usually initiates a claim against the other party’s insurance company. They demand compensation and supply documentation to prove they are entitled to the money. From there, the insurer will make a settlement offer that the victim will either accept or reject with a counteroffer, and negotiations begin.
If they cannot reach a settlement agreement, the case will likely move to litigation. The victim’s personal injury attorney files a lawsuit against the person or entity that the insurance company represents. During litigation, the insurance company might provide legal representation to their policyholder.
Why Do Personal Injury Cases Move to Litigation?
When personal injury cases end up in litigation, ultimately, the problem is that the parties cannot agree on a certain aspect of the case. The point of disagreement varies from case to case. Some common reasons your personal injury claim may turn into a lawsuit include the following:
- The insurance company offers a low amount of money that does not reflect the damages you suffered.
- The insurance company does not agree that they are responsible for your losses and injuries, so they deny the case.
- The insurer doesn’t make an offer because they believe they will win in court.
What Happens During Litigation?
Litigation is a multi-step process that can end at any stage through a court decision or a settlement agreement between the parties. The process generally looks like the following:
Preparing Your Case
After your attorney files a lawsuit with the court and the parties follow certain legal procedures, both sides prepare their cases for trial. They begin the “discovery” phase, in which they disclose essential information about their side of the case.
Your attorney may also conduct depositions, which are recorded interviews where a witness answers questions about what happened.
Attempting to Settle
Litigation is a lengthy and expensive process, especially when it includes a trial. At any point, either side can try to settle the case. Both sides might have to sit down for arbitration or mediation to resolve the dispute outside of the courtroom. If the parties still cannot agree, the case will move to trial.
Going to Trial
At trial, the attorneys for both sides will present their arguments and supporting evidence. They will call their own witnesses and cross-examine the opposing counsel’s witnesses as necessary. Cross-examining a witness means asking the opposing party’s witness questions under oath.
Closing the Case
The closing arguments are the attorneys’ final attempts to persuade the judge or jury to rule in their client’s favor. After that, the judge or jury will give a verdict, deciding whether the defendant is responsible for your injuries and, if so, what amount of damages they must pay you. If an insurance company represents them, the insurer will pay your damages.
The Burden of Proof to Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit
At trial, your attorney must prove using a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is responsible for harming you. This burden of proof requires you to show that it is more likely than not that the other party is the reason you were injured.
In doing so, you can apply the standard of negligence to your case in that the other party owed you a duty of care, failed to uphold it, and caused the accident, your injuries, and damages.
Litigation May Cost More and Extend the Length of Your Case
Because lawsuits often involve conducting depositions, hiring experts, using the court’s resources, and getting help from other people or companies, they can be far more costly than negotiating a settlement with the other party.
Preparing for trial, waiting for the judge to rule on motions, and scheduling court dates can also lengthen a case. However, sometimes the threat of a lawsuit is just the incentive the insurance company needs to offer a better settlement.
Let the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato Handle Your Personal Injury Case
If someone else’s careless actions injured you, let the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato handle your case. We work hard to resolve your case in negotiations and obtain the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible, but we never shy away from litigation. Our Florida personal injury lawyers can take your case to court and fight for every dollar you deserve if it makes sense for your case.
Call us today at (954) 633-8270 to discuss your claim during a free consultation. We won’t charge you for our service unless we win. Don’t wait to contact us, as Florida Statutes § 95.11 limits how long you have to sue.