Personal Injury

ABOUT NEGLIGENCE . . .

The law of negligence is centuries old. The American system of negligence was inherited from the English system, called the common law. The common law is a series of decisions of judges in different areas of law. The area of law which governs negligence cases is called tort law. The word tort is Latin for “Wrong”, and the law of negligence is concerned with both accidental and intentional wrongs.

The parties to a negligence case are called the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff is the person who has been injured and who alleges that his or her injuries were caused by the negligent conduct of the defendant. In a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means that the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s actions were wrong and that those actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

THE STEPS OF A PERSONAL INJURY CASE . . .

A personal injury lawsuit usually begins when the plaintiff files a summons and complaint with the court. The summons is the legal document that gives the court the power to pass judgment on a defendant. The complaint describes the facts and circumstances of the accident. It must show that the defendant had a duty not to injure the plaintiff, that the defendant violated that duty, and that the plaintiff’s injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s violation. A duty may be established by common sense, by a statute, or otherwise. A violation is established by the facts as determined by a judge or jury. Injuries are established by medical proof.

After the summons and complaint is served on the defendant, the defendant’s insurance company or attorneys answer. The answer either admits or denies the facts alleged by the plaintiff and also states any legal defenses to the claim.

The law gives both the defendant and the plaintiff an opportunity to find out information about the claims and defenses before trial. This is called discovery. Along with the answer, the defendant usually asks for information by using discovery demands. The plaintiff must respond to these demands as long as they are proper demands. Once the plaintiff has responded to the defendant’s demands, the plaintiff sends the defendant his own discovery demands. The defendant must respond to these demands as long as they are proper demands.

As part of the discovery process, the defendant’s attorneys are permitted to ask the plaintiff questions at a meeting called adeposition or examination before trial. This may take place at an attorney’s office or at the courthouse, depending on the individual case. The plaintiff’s attorneys are also entitled to depose a person from the defendant. If the defendant is a large company, disagreement may arise as to what person should be questioned and rulings by a judge may be necessary.

After discovery is completed, there is usually a conference with the judge to certify that a case is ready for trial. If the judge believes that all discovery has been completed, the case will be placed on the trial calendar. Because of the large number of cases in the court system and the shortage of judges, it is ordinarily at least two years from the time a case is placed on the trial calendar until the time it is called for trial.

WHAT A PERSONAL INJURY CLIENT SHOULD DO . . .


WHAT GREY & GREY DOES . . .

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