Steps of a Personal Injury Lawsuit | The Civil Litigation Process

Steps of a Personal Injury Lawsuit | The Civil Litigation Process

If you’re injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be considering talking to a lawyer and filing a personal injury claim.

A personal injury lawsuit (or civil lawsuit) can seem daunting and overwhelming to a person who was just in an accident. The legal language, multiple steps and strict process can influence a person not to pursue legal action.

But just because the civil lawsuit process can be intimidating doesn’t mean that an injured person shouldn’t file.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help guide you through the civil lawsuit process, hold the at fault party accountable for their actions, and ultimately secure financial compensation for the injuries sustained as well as other potential damages.

Contact a personal injury lawyer at Bodewell Law for a free legal consultation. We can help start your journey to financial recovery.

What are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits are civil cases, meaning they are not based on criminal statutes and are handled by courts separate from criminal proceedings. A personal injury lawsuit can happen alongside criminal proceedings, and also require a much lower burden of proof than a criminal case.

The steps in a personal injury lawsuit are as follows:

  • Pleadings
  • The Discovery Process
  • Trial
  • Appeals


Pleadings are the first step in the personal injury lawsuit process. A plaintiff’s attorney, the lawyer representing the injured person (plaintiff), will file a complaint. The defendant’s attorney, the lawyer representing the at-fault party, will then file an answer to the complaint.

The complaint and answer tell either side of the story that led to the injury lawsuit.

complaint gives the plaintiff’s side of the story, establishes the legal basis for holding the defendant responsible, and more generally explains why the court in which they filed was chosen.

An answer is the response to the plaintiff’s complaint. The answer

In preparing to file a complaint, your personal injury attorney will decide

The Discovery Phase

The discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit entails both parties gathering further information to support their side of the story.

The discovery phase is different in every personal injury lawsuit and can take a long time depending on the facts of the case, who the defendant is, and more.

Discovery and compiling evidence is completed through various means. The plaintiff’s attorney will submit demands for the production of documents, depositions will take place, written discovery (written questions and answers), witness testimony, and other processes are part of discovery.


During or after discovery, the plaintiff and defendant’s attorney may use motions. A motion is written request for the court to rule or act on a subject in a personal injury case. Motions can be requests to amend or dismiss a part of the personal injury case, to clarify the legal basis of an argument used by another party or the lawsuit itself.

Settlement Negotiations

Settlement talks are also held after the discovery portion of a personal injury case. Your personal injury lawyer will seek compensation for the damages incurred.

In a car accident case, the at-fault party’s insurance company is liable to pay out


If the discovery portion of the lawsuit ends without an out-of-court settlement, the case will move to a trial. Trials can be a long and complicated process, but understanding the basics can help demystify the experience.

Before a trial begins, the plaintiff and defendant will submit a document, called a brief, to the judge that covers their respective arguments and the evidence they will present during the trial.

During the trial, both parties present their arguments to the judge or jury. If the trial is set to be decided by a jury, both parties help make juror selections through a pre-trial process of potential-juror interviews called a voir dire. If the trial is set to be decided by a judge only, it’s called a bench trial.

The Process of a Trial

Once the trial begins, both parties present their opening statements. Opening statements are brief outlines of the parties’ arguments. After opening statements are made, each party introduces its case. The plaintiff always presents its case first.

Throughout the trial, both sides will have opportunities to present witnesses and evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments. After all of the evidence has been presented, the judge or jury will deliberate and reach a verdict.

The verdict will be read aloud in court, and if the verdict is in favor of the plaintiff, the judge will order the defendant to take action, such as paying damages. Trials can be complicated procedures, but understanding how they work can help everyone involved navigate the process successfully.

After the Verdict

Once the verdict is made, a party may choose to challenge the verdict. Challenging the verdict can lead to the filing of a motion for a new trial or a request for a notwithstanding verdict (where a judge rules without consideration of the jury’s verdict.


Appeals happen when a party is not satisfied with the result of a trial. When one party appeals the judge or jury verdict decision, the case is transferred to an appellate court.

The parties will file briefs and relevant evidence like they did in the original trial, and the appellate court reviews the case and decides whether to uphold the previous court ruling, reverse the verdict, or request a new trial.

Hiring a Lawyer for Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you’ve suffered an injury at no fault of your own, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Personal injury cases are complicated and difficult for accident victims to handle on their own. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, your case can be handled professionally and your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages can be compensated for.

Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not charge for our services unless financial compensation is won in your favor.

If you have any questions about the personal injury claims process, how filing a personal injury case works, or if you think you may be eligible to file a personal injury case, don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm.

Bodewell Law: Your Personal Injury Attorneys.

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