This is the next post in our discussion on the various stages of a Fort Worth, Texas personal injury case. Our last article discussed the process of negotiating with insurance carriers after an injury. It is important that you let the negotiation process run its course and that you do not accept an immediate “low ball” settlement offer. Such a settlement may leave you without the money you need to cover future medical expenses and lost wages. In this article we will discuss what one should expect while litigating a case. Litigation can be a time consuming and complicated process. It is strongly suggested that you retain an experienced lawyer to assist you.
Litigation will commence with the filing of a Petition in the Circuit Court. This is a formal document which names the various defendants and the causes of actions for which you are filing suit. Discovery, the process by which information is gained from the other side, will begin shortly thereafter. The type and nature of discovery, which your counsel conducts, will depend on the case; discovery in a commercial trucking accident, for example, will look very different from that conducted for a car wreck. This process of obtaining information can include requiring the defendants to answer written questions known as Interrogatories, requiring them to provide records and tangible evidence through Requests for Production, and can also include requiring witnesses to answer questions at a Deposition. In complex cases, discovery may last for a period of up to 1-2 years.
Once discovery has been concluded then a case will proceed to trial. A jury will be selected out of a pool of candidates from our local community. Once the jury has been empaneled then each side will make an opening statement. The Plaintiff will present their witnesses and evidence first. The Defendants will follow with their witnesses and evidence. The Plaintiff will then be given an opportunity to present rebuttal evidence. Rebuttal is not a time to introduce new facts; it is only an opportunity for the Plaintiff to directly address claims made by the defense. Closing arguments will be made to the jury once all of the evidence has been collected. The jurors will deliberate and then return their verdict. This verdict will be the final decision regarding liability and damages.
We cannot stress enough the fact that trial is a highly complicated process. The rules of evidence will be strictly enforced and if proper procedures are not followed then you may not be able to fully present your case to the jury. When selecting counsel, you should choose a firm whose attorneys are Board Certified in personal injury law and also have extensive experience in litigating cases. This is true whether you were injured in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere in the state of Texas.