While every legal case is different, most personal injury insurance defense cases proceed in a fairly predictable pattern. Understanding the phases of this process can help you to navigate the legal aspects of your case more effectively. Not all personal injury defense cases will require all of these stages. Your defense attorney can provide you with the right support and guidance to navigate this legal process successfully from start to finish.
During the initial discovery stage of your case, both sides of the legal matter will exchange evidence by providing documents in support of their case. For personal injury cases, this documentation may include medical evaluations, police reports and other printed materials that bear relevance to the case. Reports from witnesses on the scene of the accident and repair bills may also be presented during this initial stage of the legal process. This will provide your legal team with the information they need to build a solid defense case on your behalf.
Depositions are sworn oral statements provided under oath or affirmation by witnesses in an out-of-court location. Subpoenas may be issued to witnesses to compel them to appear and to give their testimony. Depositions are typically recorded in the law office of the attorney who is collecting the testimony or in the office of the assigned court reporter, who will usually record the statements of the witness for later transcription and use in the court case. Attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defense have the right to be present, as do the parties directly involved in the court case. In most instances, however, the parties to the personal injury insurance case will not attend and will be represented by their legal counsel.
Expert witnesses can provide the benefit of their knowledge in a particular area of the law, medicine or another field of endeavor. In a personal injury insurance defense case, for instance, an expert witness may provide an opinion on one or more of the following matters:
• The extent and severity of medical injuries claimed by the plaintiff
• The types of injuries possible or likely during a particular accident
• The percentage of responsibility that accrues to each party to the personal injury case
Expert witnesses may also be called to refute testimony brought by the other side during your case. This can provide added support for your version of events and can ensure that you receive the most effective representation possible for your personal injury defense case.
In the New Jersey court system, arbitration is mandatory for certain civil cases, including those involving personal injuries. This process involves presenting your case to neutral attorneys with at least 10 years of experience in the personal injury field in New Jersey or retired Superior Court judges. Before the hearing, you and your attorney will receive a notice of the date and time and will be given a chance to exchange statements with the other parties to the dispute. The arbitrator will typically render a decision and an award amount at the conclusion of the hearing. This is a non-binding decision. If you do not agree with the amount awarded, you can file a demand for a trial de novo and serve this legal document on all parties within 30 days after the award hearing.
At any point during the legal process before going to trial, one or both parties to the personal injury case can request and engage in mediation. This is a less formal process than arbitration and is specifically intended to allow a less confrontational discussion of the issues and to provide a structure for resolving these cases that does not require a formal trial. Your attorney may recommend mediation for cases in which the difference between what the plaintiff is requesting and what you are willing to provide is relatively small. By negotiating a reasonable settlement through mediation, you can reduce the legal fees associated with a prolonged trial and an extended legal battle.
If you and the plaintiff cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement, your case may go to trial before a jury or a judge. Your attorney will represent your side of the legal case and will provide evidence that may demonstrate some or all of the following:
• That the plaintiff was not injured to the extent reported or at all
• That the plaintiff is at least partially responsible for their own injuries
• That the respondent is not responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff
Jury trials can be costly and typically require the services of expert witnesses and other legal resources to ensure the best outcomes for your personal injury defense.
Depending on the size of the settlement or award sought by the plaintiff in these cases, your attorney may recommend that you negotiate a more reasonable settlement or that you take the case to trial. By entrusting your case to a qualified and experienced legal team, you can reduce the financial burden of these personal injury cases and can present the best defense possible against claims made by plaintiffs in and out of the courtroom setting. If you would like to discuss your situation with us, call us today at 973-354-5783 for a consultation.
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