Being a plaintiff in a personal injury case and suing for the physical or mental pain you suffered can be challenging. However, if you are suffering due to the fault of another person or company, you are entitled to obtain compensation and should fight for it with the legal assistance of an experienced Chattanooga personal injury attorney.
Opening court papers
The Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure outlines the requirements for all civil court filings, motions and discovery. Although the substance of personal injury claims may vary, the initial documents you must file in court include:
- A complaint establishes the facts and legal theories justifying your lawsuit.
- A summons gives the defendant notice you are suing them, refers to the complaint, and states the time limit within which the defendant must answer or move to dismiss the case.
- Service of process,the summons and complaint are served to the defendant by one of the legally acceptable personal service methods.
- In their answer, the defendant will either admit or deny each of the allegations made in the complaint, or they will say they lack enough information to respond. They may also have defenses to your allegations, some of which can be used to later dismiss your case.
- The defendant may file a counterclaim if they wish to make a claim against you. You will need to reply to each counterclaim.
- Cross-claims may be asserted if there are more than two parties to the lawsuit.
- A third-party complaint may be made by the defendant, if they believe an additional party is responsible for your injuries.
Discovery is a process designed to narrow the issues and obtain evidence for trial. Within limits, all parties should have access to important facts not legally privileged, to eliminate any surprises and enable a fair and speedy resolution.
The different discovery devices include:
- Document production: every party, within limits, has a right to see documents that relate to the case.
- Depositions: these include verbal statements made under oath and recorded by a court.
- Written interrogatories: these are questions that you answer regarding your account of events.
- Requests for admission: these arequestions requiring you to either admit or deny certain facts.
Many motions request court action short of final judgment. Motions can also be used to dismiss the case or find the case to be in a party’s favor:
- A motion to dismiss may claim the complaint was not served properly, the site of the lawsuit is inappropriate, the court has no power to decide your particular claims, or the court has no power over the particular parties
- If important case facts are undisputed, a motion for summary judgment may be made that asks the court to rule before trial
Settlement or trial
The great majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. If your case is settled, both you and the defendant will agree to a sum of money. If the case goes to trial, any compensation awarded will be in the discretion of a judge or jury. To understand more about the legal process for your case, contact a skilled Chattanooga personal injury attorney as soon as possible.