The personal injury lawsuit process can be confusing and intimidating, but the experienced attorneys at Englander Peebles are here to help you. We serve clients in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami, and throughout Florida.
The Complaint and Summons
A complaint is a document that the plaintiff files with the court to begin the lawsuit. A complaint lets the defendant (the person(s) being sued) know that you have filed a claim against him or her. It contains information regarding the plaintiff and the defendant, an overview of the facts of the accident, a demand for monetary damages, as well as a demand for a jury trial.
Along with the complaint, the plaintiff needs to obtain a summons. A summons is a document that is signed/stamped by the Clerk of Court and gives the Court jurisdiction (power) over the person(s) being sued. In order for the Court to have this power, the summons must be delivered to the Defendant through an individual known as a process server.
The Answer and Affirmative Defenses
Once the process server delivers the complaint to the defendant, he or she generally has twenty (20) days to either file a motion to dismiss or to formally answer the lawsuit. A motion to dismiss essentially asks the court to dismiss a lawsuit for a variety of legal reasons. For example, a lawsuit may be missing certain information required by law.
Most of the time, the defendant will file what is called an answer and affirmative defenses. An answer is a response to the lawsuit that admits or denies certain facts. Along with the answer, the defendant may raise certain defenses. For example, the defendant may believe that the plaintiff was also at fault for the accident.
The Discovery Process
After an answer and affirmative defenses are filed, the parties engage in what is known as the discovery process. The discovery process is a mechanism for each side to learn more about the other side’s case. The parties will exchange written questions, requests for documents, and may ask the other side to admit or deny additional facts. In addition, each party to the lawsuit as well as witnesses may have their deposition taken.
The Compulsory Medical Examination
Personal injury cases are unique in that allow the defendant to have the plaintiff examined by a doctor hired by the Defendant. The role of the defendant’s doctor is to examine the plaintiff, review medical records, and determine whether the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury due to the accident.
The parties to the lawsuit will then go to mediation. Mediation is a process in which the parties attempt to resolve their lawsuit. During mediation, a certified mediator will listen to the presentations of both the plaintiff and the defendant’s attorneys, and try to assist the parties in resolving their differences.
If mediation is not successful, a trial may occur. During a trial, the parties will present evidence and witnesses to either a judge or jury. The judge or jury will determine who the winner is and, if applicable, the amount of money that should be awarded.
Contact Englander Peebles Today
If you have any questions about the lawsuit process, contact Englander Peebles today. We are experienced trial attorneys who guide our clients through the lawsuit process on a daily basis. Englander Peebles is conveniently located in Fort Lauderdale and can be reached at (954) 231-1384 or through our online form.