What is the Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New York?

In many cases, personal injury claims are resolved between the parties before litigation becomes necessary. That is not always the case, however. When the parties cannot reach an agreement, a lawsuit becomes an injured person’s only option.

While all injury lawsuits are different, they all follow the same general timeline. A lawsuit might ultimately settle early on in the process or result in a jury trial. In either case, it is crucial that you work closely with a New York City personal injury lawyer.

Select legal counsel

To build the strongest case possible, your first call should be to a personal injury lawyer. There are many steps your attorney must take before the lawsuit can begin. This starts with a thorough investigation of your injury. This can involve determining liability for your injuries and compiling your medical bills. After a thorough evaluation, your attorney will have the documentation necessary to proceed with your claim. They will also have the opportunity to pursue negotiations in your case. If this falls through, they will be ready to move forward with the lawsuit.

File the summons and complaint

In New York, every lawsuit begins with a summons and complaint. The complaint is the document that sets out the nature of your claim. It must indicate the type of lawsuit you are pursuing, as well as the date and location where the accident occurred. The complaint may not state the amount of money you are seeking. Instead, the jury can award any amount they determine you deserve.

The summons is a court-issued document requiring the defendant to appear and answer your complaint. Once you have served them with a copy of the summons and complaint, they have a limited amount of time to file their answer. It is not unusual for a defendant to deny every aspect of your complaint in their answer.

Bill of Particulars

Where your complaint is vague regarding the level of compensation you are seeking, your Bill of Particulars will fill in the gaps. This legal document sets out the extent of your injuries as well as the degree of medical treatment you required. In addition to your medical bills, the Bill of Particulars will also specify your lost earnings and further explain your theory of liability.

The preliminary conference

The preliminary conference takes place early on in the lawsuit. It brings the parties to the lawsuit together with the court to set a schedule. This schedule will outline when the discovery phase takes place, among other things. One of the benefits of hiring an attorney is that they can attend this on your behalf. While they represent your interests, you can focus on recovering.

Examinations and discovery

After the schedule for the case is set, the discovery process begins. One of the primary purposes of this stage is to submit to several examinations. The first is known as examination before trial or EBT. In most jurisdictions, this is known as a deposition. At an EBT, both sides have the opportunity to ask questions of you that will come up at trial.

You will also face a physical examination before trial. In an injury lawsuit, the defendant can request that you submit to a medical examination with a doctor of their choosing. Failure to comply with this request could result in the dismissal of your case. Your personal injury lawyer can assist in this process and ensure that your rights are protected.

The discovery phase also involves sharing of documentary evidence between the two parties. Discovery can include written questions or requests for documents, among other things.

Trial

In most cases, there will be ample opportunities to resolve your claim before trial. They can include mediation, arbitration, or further settlement negotiations. If these fall through, your case will culminate with a trial. Most injury cases involve a jury trial. During this, both sides will have the opportunity to offer evidence and question witnesses. In the end, the jury will determine if you are entitled to compensation.  

Contact us for a free consultation

It is understandable if the prospect of a personal injury lawsuit seems daunting. At Douglas & London, our firm has extensive experience with guiding injury victims throughout the litigation process step by step. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a free consultation right away.