If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, you should know that there is a difficult path ahead. Fortunately, if you have an experienced motorcycle accident attorney by your side, most of the work will be taken off your plate. However, you should still be aware of what will happen throughout the process so you know what to expect at each point in the case.
The Many Stages of a Motorcycle Injury Case
The phases of an injury case—and how long each one takes—can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. If injuries and damages are fairly straightforward and liability for the accident is clear, we may be able to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster without ever filing suit. On the other hand, if an insurance company is lowballing you even after you have hired an attorney, you may need to move forward through the legal process.
If an insurance company will not give you fair value on your claim, you may proceed to:
- Filing suit. In legal terms, the lawsuit is known as the complaint. The person who files the lawsuit (you) is called the plaintiff, while the person who caused the harm is called the defendant. The complaint is an official request for payment outlining who you are, what happened to you, who the defendants are, what the defendants did wrong, and how much you are owed for your losses. The complaint is filed in court, and a copy must be delivered to the defendant.
- Serving the summons. The defendant must be served (formally receive by hand delivery or certified mail) a copy of the filed complaint and a summons to appear in front of a judge. The defendant has 30 days to officially respond to the complaint. At this point, the defendant may choose to settle rather than take the matter further. If the defendant does not relent, the case moves into discovery.
- Discovery. In the discovery phase of the case, both sides gather information that could potentially lead to evidence at trial. Your attorney and the defendant's attorney will exchange documents, answers to written questions (interrogatories), and sworn testimony of witnesses and other parties.
- Depositions. A deposition is a question-and-answer session given under oath and usually recorded by a court reporter. Depositions can be used as testimony in court, so it is vital that you are properly prepared to answer questions about your injuries and accident. Once you have been deposed, other parties in the case (witnesses, experts, and doctors) may also give depositions. Your attorney will continue to engage in settlement negotiations even as the case proceeds toward trial.
- Mediation. Most judges require mediation before they will set a trial date. This means that you will have to attempt to resolve your case using a third-party mediator who has been given an overview of the case. Once the mediator hears the evidence, they will make a recommendation as to how they think the case should be resolved. You can agree to the proposal or refuse the proposal and continue settlement negotiations after mediation.
- Trial. After mediation, you may receive a trial date and begin intensive trial preparation. Insurance companies only care about keeping their money, so their defense lawyer will try to convince the jury that you are not owed any compensation. As a trial lawyer, I know that this motivation can be used against them in settlement negotiations—especially if they believe they could lose a much larger sum at trial.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle accident, the attorneys at GriffithLaw can discuss your next steps in your free initial consultation—and we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, please call (615) 807-7900 today or download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.