Personal Injury Lawyer Ogden Utah argues to compensate victims for losses due to another person or company’s negligence. Victims recover money for items such as medical and ambulance bills, lost work time, property damage, future loss of income, and pain and suffering.
A plaintiff may also claim strict liability, such as when a defective product hurts an accident victim. A good attorney can help determine which law applies to a specific case.
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil complaint filed by an injured party, or the plaintiff, against another person, business, corporation, or government agency (the defendant) for negligence in an accident that caused harm. The lawsuit aims to hold the defendant accountable for compensating the plaintiff for their losses.
It is important to understand that personal injury cases are often resolved through informal settlement negotiations, even when a formal lawsuit is not filed. However, filing a lawsuit may be necessary if the responsible parties are reluctant to offer you the compensation you deserve or continually stall communications with you.
Depending on the circumstances, a personal injury lawsuit can result in many damages. Generally, two kinds of damages can be awarded: general and special. General damages, sometimes called non-economic damages, are intended to compensate the victim for harms that cannot easily be assigned a monetary value. They include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
On the other hand, special damages are designed to reimburse the victim for actual losses that can be readily measured. These typically include expenses related to the injury or illness, including medical treatment and resulting bills, lost wages, and estimated future losses such as anticipated care needs and reduced earnings potential.
In rare instances, a court may award punitive damages in addition to general and special damages. These are meant to punish the defendant for reckless behavior. Still, they are usually not an element of most personal injury cases.
A successful personal injury lawsuit will require you to prove that the defendant owed you a duty to act responsibly, that this duty was breached, and that their actions directly caused your injuries. Proving this can be not easy and will likely require expert witnesses to testify about the facts of your case. Ultimately, the success of your case will depend on the strength of your evidence and the willingness of the defendant to offer fair compensation. If the defendant is unwilling, you may be able to force them to take your case to trial by filing a summons and a copy of the Complaint with the proper civil court.
If you suffer injuries caused by someone else’s carelessness, you may want to seek justice in court. However, ensuring that you have the facts necessary to prove your case and that you can sustain damages before filing a personal injury lawsuit is important.
After you gather the evidence that supports your injury claim, your lawyer will file a complaint in the proper court. A complaint is the first official document in a legal case and lays out in very broad terms what you claim the defendant did or failed to do that caused your injuries. A complaint also identifies the legal theories that support your claims, such as negligence.
The body of a complaint consists of numbered paragraphs describing your injury-related losses and what you seek from the defendant (your “damages”). Factual allegations should tell your story but should not box you in or leave the defendant with too much breathing room for arguments later. The legal allegations are normally divided by counts, each representing a different recovery theory. For example, if you suffered respiratory injuries from mold exposure in a new construction home, your lawsuit could be filed on counts of negligence, nuisance, and violation of local consumer protection laws.
Once a complaint is filed, the defendant must be personally served with the Complaint and a summons. Once this happens, the defendant has a short time to respond to the lawsuit by filing an “answer.” The answer typically admits or denies the allegations of the Complaint. It may be possible to add a third party as the defendant in your case by completing a cross-complaint form (form PLD-PI-003).
After the Complaint is answered, the plaintiff and defendant enter a phase of the legal process called discovery. This includes exchanging documents and information and taking depositions. Most cases that go to trial are settled at this stage by agreement between the parties. If the parties cannot agree, a trial will be scheduled later. The trial is likely to last from two to three days.
When you’ve suffered a personal injury due to another person or company’s negligence, your lawyer may recommend that you file a lawsuit. Depending on the type of injury, there may be a time limit for starting the suit (called a statute of limitations). Then, your lawyer will prepare and file documents with the court that begin the legal process. These documents are called pleadings.
One of the first filings is a Summons and Complaint, which identifies the parties and states that you are suing someone for negligence. The Complaint also lists your allegations and the damages you are seeking. The defendant will then be personally delivered or mailed this document. This is known as being “served.” Alternatively, the defendant may sign an index number at the courthouse, and the documents will be mailed.
Once the Complaint is filed, both sides will engage in a discovery period. This involves exchanging information like police reports, witness testimony, and surveillance/security video. The plaintiff’s attorney will also serve formal requests to the defendant’s attorney asking for specific information and documentation in the defendant’s possession related to the case.
During this time, your lawyer will work to gather all of the evidence needed to support your claim for damages. This will involve obtaining medical records, bills, police reports, photographs of the accident scene, and other damage-causing items. Your attorney will also need to verify the nature and extent of your injuries.
In most personal injury cases, having a qualified expert, such as an accident reconstruction specialist or economist, is important to help you calculate your total losses. This will include your financial, physical, and emotional losses. The expert will also help to determine if you are entitled to punitive damages for the defendant’s actions.
The defendant will have 30 days to respond to the Summons and Complaint. The defendant’s response is called an Answer. Most defendants deny the claims in the Complaint. However, multiple defendants are not uncommon to be found at fault. Your lawyer will prepare a cross-complaint for each additional defendant when this occurs.
While the trial may be the highest-profile step in a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to remember that most cases settle well before a trial. This can occur via resolution settlement between the parties, alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration, or case dismissal.
The trial is a final chance for your attorney to demonstrate how the defendant’s negligence caused you harm. It is also an opportunity for the defense to rebut your key evidence and present any affirmative defenses they have to the allegations of negligence. Generally, your attorney will make an opening statement to introduce the plaintiff’s case. Then, the defense will give its opening statement. Afterward, both sides will call witnesses and present their arguments to the judge or jury.
After your lawyer presents their side of the story, the jury will be asked to decide if the defendant is liable and how much you are entitled to receive in damages. It is important to note that a jury award typically is much larger than the amount an insurance company is willing to pay.
Once the jury has reached a verdict, the judge will read the findings and decide. The defendant can appeal the verdict if they are unhappy with the outcome. However, the plaintiff can also demand the verdict if they believe it does not adequately compensate them for the injuries and losses they have suffered.
After the case has been resolved, getting your monetary award can take some time. This is because your lawyer must first pay companies with a legal claim to some of the funds, known as liens, out of a special escrow account. Once these have been paid, the remainder of the money will be disbursed to you. An experienced personal injury attorney on your side throughout this process will help ensure you are awarded the maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.