A personal injury lawsuit is a legal way of redressing a personal injury by awarding damages meant to compensate or provide relief for the negligent or intentional acts of another. Types of personal injury cases can range from auto accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, and more.
To begin a personal injury lawsuit, fill out the proper paperwork in full and file it with the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction that has authority over the case. The proper jurisdiction is usually the county where the defendant lives or where the accident or injury occurred. Fees are often associated with filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a personal injury claim must take place within a specific period of time. This is called the statute of limitations. In Vermont, the statute of limitations for personal injury actions is within three years from the date the cause of the action occurred.
In some cases, your claims may be of limited value. In small cases such as this, Vermont offers a small claims court. If recovery is under $5,000, you may file in this court.
Pleadings are formal, legal statements from both sides of a lawsuit. They are filed with the court and are one of several procedural devices in a lawsuit. In addition to the complaint by the plaintiff, the defendant will also be served with a summons. The defendant replies to the complaint, and a counter claim is possible. If it occurs the plaintiff will reply.
The process of discovery is a fact-finding mission. Interrogatories, or written questions, are posed and answered by the plaintiff and defendant. These documents are shared with the opposing parties. Depositions are oral, but recorded, question and answer sessions. Sometimes, an expert witness is hired or a medical exam is required. The results are also shared with the opposition.
It is common for some form of settlement to be reached prior to trial. Most of the time, going to trial is a last resort. The expense and time taken during court proceedings makes mediation an attractive option for settlement. In mediation a neutral third party generally assists all parties to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement.
If no agreement is forthcoming, trial becomes unavoidable. The trial process is very organized and each step is similar in every court with minor distinctions. The process begins with voir dire to pick a jury, if one is required. Once a jury is chosen, opening statements from the plaintiff and defendant are heard. The evidence is presented, and closing statements are read. The judge or jury deliberates and a verdict is reached that may allow for damages.
Each state's laws govern how it calculates fault and the resulting damages. In Vermont, the comparative negligence law defines the conclusions of the court. If the plaintiff was found to be partially at fault, the recovery will be diminished by that amount, unless the amount of negligence on the plaintiff's part was more than that of the defendant.
Why Contact an Attorney?
Please note that this information is no substitute for a personal injury attorney. Should you have questions about the value of your case and what types of damages you can seek, consult a Vermont personal injury attorney.