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Connecticut Personal Injury Blog

Anatomy of a Personal Injury Case

Before you get involved in a personal injury lawsuit, it is prudent to understand what goes into a personal injury complaint.  It does not simply go from the filing of a lawsuit to a trial in a couple days.  A potential personal injury plaintiff should be aware of these things before he or she files suit.

The first thing that occurs in a personal injury lawsuit is that the injured victim gets the proper medical attention and begins to go through treatment for his or her injuries.  Once the victim is healthy enough, he or she may hire an attorney to investigate liability and explore potential options for recovering medical expenses and lost wages.  Once hired, the attorney will typically request all of your medical and employment records, and he or she will put the third party or insurance company on notice that they might be subject to a damages suit surrounding the incident that caused the injuries. Once the injured victim gets to a milestone in his or her recovery where future outcomes are at least somewhat clear, the attorney will make a demand on the third party or insurance company to pay for your injuries.  If the attorney cannot reach an agreement over how much the third party or insurance company owes, the attorney may file suit as long as it is still within the statute of limitations (which in Connecticut is two years from the date of the incident). As the attorney has filed a complaint at this stage, it is the wrongdoer's duty to file an answer, which literally answers or responds to the complaint’s allegations.  Generally speaking, it can take a few months to get an answer from the defendant’s attorney. After the defendant answers the complaint, the investigatory stage of the litigation begins, which is referred to as “discovery.”  During discovery, parties may use a number of methods to obtain information.  One method of obtaining information is through an interrogatory, which is a written series of questions looking for specific answers.  The oral equivalent of an interrogatory is a deposition, where both sides’ attorneys will present questions to parties and witnesses in order to build a complete story.  Attorneys may also use the system of document request to obtain records, bills, files, and anything else of substance. Throughout the discovery process, both attorneys may be looking to settle the case in order to guarantee some form of compensation and not incur more legal fees for their clients.  If one attorney feels his or her client’s case is particularly weakened by discovery evidence, that attorney may feel the need to settle to get anything out of the case at all. Another tactic attorneys will use in litigation is the motion for summary judgment.  Without getting into the intricacies of legal jargon, summary judgment is a motion an attorney will file when he or she wants to avoid trial and feels that no facts are in dispute, so the court should determine who wins and who loses the case as a matter of law. If summary judgment fails, the final stage of the process is the trial itself, which will generally be adjudicated by a jury of lay people.  An important thing to remember that once the lawsuit is filed, the case will be handled by court personnel and neither party will solely be able to dictate the calendar. The CT Injury Law Center can assist you in each and every one of these steps and help ensure that you recover what you’ve lost.

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