Despite common belief, litigation is not just another word for a lawsuit. According to the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School, litigation is taking legal action to resolve a dispute or a complaint filed by the plaintiff against the defendant in a court of law. Litigation defines the legal proceedings that happen during a lawsuit.
When you file a lawsuit with a personal injury attorney, your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to recover damages resulting from your accident. If the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree on fair compensation, the court will resort to litigation. While litigation is an extra step in the legal process, it helps ensure you are sufficiently compensated for what you are owed after a personal injury accident in Arizona.
The litigation process can be long and complex. Litigation claims rarely go to trial, and litigation parties may agree to a settlement. However, experienced personal injury attorneys are well-equipped to secure the compensation that you deserve.
What Are the Elements of Personal Injury Litigation?
When the courts resort to litigation after failing to come to a settlement agreement, the litigation process will go through five stages, or elements, to prove your claim and resolve the dispute between you and the defendant. Each step of litigation can be complex in its own way, and thorough legal knowledge is necessary to successfully navigate to the final outcome. The five stages of the litigation process for a personal injury claim include the following:
Discovery describes the process during litigation of collecting evidence to support your claim against the defendant. You will be required to go through discovery processes to substantiate your evidence, including submitting and exchanging documents, answering questions under oath, and conducting depositions and oral examinations.
Additionally, both parties will be allowed to subpoena witnesses to testify on their behalf during discovery. Once your case is officially in active discovery, litigation has begun.
When one or both parties file a motion in court, your case has officially entered litigation. Filing a motion happens when either party submits a written request to the court to obtain direction for their claim. There are different ways you can file a motion and various motions you can file based on the type of claim you submit.
According to the Arizona Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 129, when you file a motion, you must submit a motion in writing with the appropriate outline listed in Rule 108. Once a motion has been submitted, each party will have 10 days to respond and five days’ notice before a hearing regarding the motion is scheduled.
During your hearing, your personal injury lawyer may partner with an expert witness to help prove your claim based on the expert witness’s knowledge or field experience. Expert witnesses are usually doctors, medical professionals, or any other professional with relevant experience to your claim. Having an expert witness testify can help solidify your claim by backing up the evidence with facts versus opinions.
Examples of expert witnesses include:
- Vocational experts
- Parenting experts
- Mental health professionals
- Forensic experts
Before witnesses and expert witnesses testify on your behalf, your personal injury attorney in Arizona will meet with them to prepare them for the hearing. Your attorney may help witnesses answer questions and practice responding when on the stand. In preparation for a hearing, your attorney may also file motions or respond to motions before your trial date.
Once your claim reaches trial, your personal injury lawyer will share evidence to support your claim with a judge and a jury. After your evidence has been submitted to the court and witnesses have testified, a judge and jury will finalize your settlement. Once this happens, the litigation is over, and the judge will share the final verdict with the court.
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What Is the Goal of Litigation for Personal Injury Claims?
Despite the type of claim you submit or the specifics of your lawsuit, litigation’s goal is always to resolve between the two parties. Coming to a resolution can happen when the plaintiff and defendant mutually agree on a settlement to cover economic and non-economic damages from an accident, like a crash crash or slip and fall accident. Once the two parties agree, the goal of litigation has been met, and the plaintiff will be awarded a settlement from the judge or jury based on the evidence of their claim.
Litigation rarely leads to trial. However, in some complex cases, a trial is necessary for the plaintiff and defendant to reach an agreement. A trial can be helpful in these cases as a judge or jury will issue a verdict to ensure the plaintiff is appropriately compensated.
Why Do Personal Injury Claims in Arizona End Up in Litigation?
There are many reasons why a personal injury claim may end up in litigation. However, the top influencing factor is when the plaintiff and the defendant cannot agree on an appropriate personal injury settlement. When this happens, litigation will help resolve without one or both parties feeling their evidence was overlooked.
Common examples of personal injury claims leading to litigation include:
- The settlement that was offered by the defendant’s insurance company is too low or does not recover the total damages from your personal injury accident.
- You have requested a settlement amount that the defendant’s insurance company is unwilling to pay.
- The defendant’s insurance company rejects your claim or does not offer a settlement to recover your damages after an accident.
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Our Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You
When insurance companies are unwilling to offer the settlement you need to recover economic and non-economic damages, litigation ensures justice is severed to the guilty party. Litigation can be a long and complex process. To get the best results from your claim, hiring a top-rated personal injury lawyer in Arizona is always recommended.
Personal injury lawyers are well-versed in the litigation process and how it can help increase your chances of winning fair compensation. We can answer your questions and ensure you understand how the litigation process affects your claim after a personal injury.
If your claim has been rejected or undervalued by the at-fault party’s insurance company, an Arizona personal injury attorney can help you win what you deserve.