FAQs About The Legal Process
What steps do I take after an accident?
Your first step should always be to get proper medical attention. Your very next step is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help guide you through what can often be a very complex legal process. At The Barnes Firm, we can prepare a summons and complaint. These documents basically state that you (or your family member) were involved in an accident because of someone else’s negligence. Once the summons and complaint is filed, we wait for the defendant and their attorney to answer.
How long does the defendant have to answer to a complaint?
Once a person or company has been served with a complaint, they have 30 days to answer. In some cases, defendants are granted an extension, but most respond within this 30-day time frame.
What happens after the defendant answers a complaint?
Once a complaint has been answered, your team of legal advocates will begin what’s called ‘discovery.’ This is when attorneys for both the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the negligent party) exchange client information. This process often takes time because the defendant’s lawyers sometimes request information they’re not entitled to, or they drag their feet getting us the information we need. This can happen a several times throughout the legal process.
You may be asked to complete an independent medical examination (“IME”) during discover. This is when a defendant’s attorney asks you see a doctor of their choice. You are required to attend this examination, if it’s requested. If you have any questions or concerns about an IME, talk to your attorney. Remember, The Barnes Firm is here to help YOU.
What’s a deposition?
A deposition is another part of the discovery process. This is when a statement is given under oath, and recorded for later use in court. Attorneys from both sides will ask you questions relating to the accident, and your injuries. You’re not alone in this, and our team will use your statements to strengthen your case. The defendant and any other parties involved in the lawsuit will also have to answer these questions under oath.
When do we go to trial?
Most times, a trial can be avoided — but all of the personal injury attorneys at The Barnes Firm will prepare your case for trial because, in our experience, this preparations helps our clients maximize their compensation. If the case is not settled, a judge will set a trial date after all depositions and the independent medical examination have been completed.
What happens during a trial?
Most trials have a jury, and are considered jury trials. All of the evidence we’ve collected during the discovery process will now be presented to the jury, which will determine the outcome of your case. This is why we collect the testimonies of doctors, industry experts, plaintiffs, and defendants. Depending on how complex your case is, a trial could last one day, or it could take a few weeks.
What if I don’t like the outcome of my case?
Jury decisions are final. In some cases, your attorney can file an appeal, but this option may not always be your best path forward. It is important to ask your attorney about all of your options throughout the legal process.
What if I don’t want to go to trial?
Most cases are resolved before trial. If the two sides still can’t agree on an offer, your case could avoid a trial by going through arbitration or mediation. These scenarios set a high and low value on your case, even before walking in the door. An arbiter (usually an independent lawyer) will hear your case, and will make a decision on how much, if anything, should be awarded to an injured client.
If you have questions at any point in your case, call your attorney. The Barnes Firm is here to help YOU. Call us or contact us if you have any questions.
The Barnes Firm 1-(800) 800-0000