If you have been injured because of someone else’s wrongful conduct, you may be entitled to win damages in court. To win, you must prove certain facts that will entitle you to damages under the law. You must also file your lawsuit within a specific period of time, known as the statute of limitations. In Fayetteville, that time limit is three years after the injury.
Filing the Lawsuit
Civil lawsuits generally follow a very similar path toward conclusion. They start with the filing of a complaint in court and end either in dismissal, settlement or trial. The complaint sets out the allegations that you believe entitle you to damages from the person you are suing. The complaint also specifies the relief that you are seeking and the legal theory you plan to prove in your case.
The person(s) or business that you sue is referred to as the defendant. The defendant is only allowed a certain amount of time to respond to your lawsuit. If the defendant does not file the appropriate response, then a default judgment could be obtained in your favor. In responding, the defendant can admit or deny the allegations, or include his or her own claims against you.
There may be some motions that the defendant will file that can have serious effects on your personal injury lawsuit in Fayetteville. Some of these motions include the following:
- Motion for change of venue requests that your case be moved to a different courthouse
- Motion for removal asks that your case be moved from state court to federal court, usually when the case either involves federal law or that the defendant is from a different state
- Motion to dismiss generally argues that your lawsuit was brought in an untimely manner or that you are not actually entitled to relief.
Your Fayetteville personal injury attorney will be able to handle these motions, all but the last of which, do not affect the ability of your case to continue to trial.
Once you get past any preliminary motions, and your case is still pending, the next phase of litigation is the discovery phase. Discovery is the method attorneys use to investigate the facts and gather evidence. This phase usually involves interviewing witnesses and examining documents. Both sides of litigation are required to share the information they gather during discovery with each other.
Resolution Before Trial
After evidence has been gathered during discovery, two things are likely to happen. Either the defendant(s) will file what is called a “motion for summary judgment” or they may consider settlement. This will generally depend on how the evidence pans out and which party seems to have the stronger case. A motion for summary judgment asks the judge to decide the case based on what is presented at that point, before going to trial.
Going to Trial
There are two different kinds of trials: a bench trial and a jury trial. The difference is that a bench trial is decided by the judge and a jury trial is decided by a group of your own peers. In a jury trial, the judge will first determine which laws are applicable. But the jury determines what they believe actually happened, who is ultimately responsible, and how much the victim should receive for those injuries.