What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

June 30th, 2022 by Stacey

If you have been hurt by another person’s negligence, you are likely wondering how to seek compensation for your losses. Personal injury victims have rights under the law, but how you go about your case and who you enlist to help you can greatly influence what the outcome might be. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a way to seek just compensation for your injuries. Understanding the personal injury lawsuit process can help you anticipate how your case can move forward and the timeline for resolving a personal injury matter.

What Happens Before Filing a Suit With the Court?

It may be surprising to see how much work goes into a personal injury case before a lawyer officially files suit in court. When you are a victim of a personal injury, it can feel as though the aftermath of your accident is chaotic and moving fast. In some cases, things can move rather quickly, and your rights and compensation are at risk when you are not involved or aware of the developments in your case. Your first step after an accident resulting in a personal injury is finding the right lawyer to represent you in the case.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Whether to hire a personal injury attorney is not a question you should put off answering for too long. When you suffer an injury that you believe is someone else’s fault, you need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to represent you and your interests from the initial stages of your personal injury case.

If you are unsure about hiring an attorney because you do not feel that your case is serious enough or that the outcome might be uncertain, rest assured that an attorney can help you navigate this uncertainty. Personal injury attorneys know how insurance companies work and when a case is worth pursuing. Therefore, most personal injury attorneys, including Gruel Mills, offer free case consultations so potential clients can sit down, share their case details, and receive feedback on the likelihood of a successful resolution.

Once an attorney accepts your case and you hire them to represent you, they will immediately get to work on gathering information and taking action.

A Lawyer Will Evaluate and Investigate Your Case

What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Once they take you on as a new client, a lawyer will want to understand the details of your case. Your attorney did an initial general evaluation to decide whether they would accept your case, but once you are a client they will launch a much more thorough investigation into how your injury happened and who might be responsible for it.

Personal injury attorneys often have significant resources that are not accessible to everyday people suffering from an injury. They can obtain information that may be in jeopardy of getting lost or destroyed and track down witnesses or experts that can provide vital statements or opinions on your case about who may have caused your injuries.

Establishing Your Damages

Your injuries are the basis for which you will seek damages and compensation in a personal injury case. Considering all aspects of your losses is critical to ensure that your attorney can seek the maximum potential damages as part of your claim or lawsuit.

Your attorney must account for all losses you already sustained and those losses you may continue to suffer in the future. Seeking recovery of only your current losses would be a significant disservice to you and would put your future financial stability at risk. Surprise complications or medical care that drags on much longer than anticipated can be costly and leave victims with significant financial burdens after a personal injury accident.

The lawyer in your case will estimate the damages early on and modify them as the case progresses to help you make decisions as you seek compensation for your injuries.

Your Attorney Will Prepare and File an Insurance Claim

A lawsuit will not likely be the first thing your attorney files on your behalf. The focus of your case in its beginning stages will likely be on the insurance claims process. In some cases, you may reach a successful settlement with the insurer early on with the help of your attorney.

Your lawyer will prepare your claim, file the documentation and support requested by the insurer to prove your damages, manage communications with your insurance company, and negotiate on your behalf for the highest possible offer from the insurer.

Attempts to Negotiate a Settlement in the Case Through an Insurance Claim

Insurance claims negotiations can take time and several rounds of back and forth communications between you, your attorney, and the insurance company. The insurance company may eventually offer you a fair settlement that compensates you for a significant portion of your losses.

Your attorney will inform you of all offers made by the insurance company. After an offer, they will advise you about the merits of the offer, and you can decide whether to accept, submit a counter offer, or go forward with a lawsuit.

If Negotiations Do Not Succeed, Your Attorney May File Suit in Court

Many cases resolve in the insurance claim stage because lawsuits can be slow and costly once they are filed with the court. However, a successful settlement can be impossible, particularly for cases with exceptionally high damages or damages that exceed the insurance policy’s coverage limits, if there is a dispute as to liability, or there have not been reasonable settlement offers from one side.

When resolution will probably not occur during pre-suit negotiations, your attorney will shift their focus to filing your case in court against the parties liable for your damages.

Naming the Defendants in the Case

When an attorney files a lawsuit on your behalf, they must also name the defendants in the case and who you believe are liable for your losses. In some cases, there may be just one defendant, such as the party directly at fault for your injuries. In other instances where an insurance company is involved, the suit may include the insurer, the at-fault party, and any other party your attorney believes played a role in the accident or negligence leading to your injuries.

Personal injury lawyers will try to include anyone they believe is responsible based on the evidence and facts of the case. This protects your rights under the law, because additional parties may not be able to be added later due to the statute of limitations that sets a deadline for you to file your case. Your attorney will ensure that the proper parties are part of the lawsuit and that your case filing complies with the deadlines set out by your state for personal injury cases.

Personal injury statutes of limitations differ from state to state and each state has its own exceptions to this deadline. It is thus imperative that you and your lawyer stay on top of this date and file a lawsuit on time. This punctuality prevents any possibility of the court barring your recovery simply for not filing the case on time.

Filing the Lawsuit Against the Parties at Fault for Your Injuries

Once your attorney officially files your lawsuit in court, the court is now involved in your case. Your attorney will begin the necessary work towards a trial where the court or a jury will determine who is at fault for your injuries and the amount of your damages. In addition, many formalities, procedures, and motions may take place in preparing for a trial in a personal injury lawsuit.

Lawsuits take time. It takes time to build the case and meet the court’s requirements, and you must also consider that you are at the mercy of the court’s schedule and availability. When it becomes clear that your case must go through the court for the best possible resolution, you must prepare for delays and a longer timeline than when a case settles outside of court.

The Discovery Process in a Personal Injury Case

Discovery is the process by which the parties exchange evidence and information about your personal injury lawsuit. Discovery allows each side to access the relevant information the opposing side is using to prove its case. This process can include documentation, evidence, witnesses, and other records used to prove liability, defenses, or damages. During discovery, each side may request evidence, submit requests for interrogatories, and schedule depositions of witnesses or any relevant party to the case. Unlike on television, lawyers cannot hide the “smoking gun” evidence and reveal it only at trial.

The Process of Seeking a Settlement

If a party and their attorney learn important information for the case through discovery, they may seek to resume negotiations for a settlement outside of court. When an insurance company or at-fault party realizes that a plaintiff has a strong case to prove liability or the extent of the damages, they may be willing to work towards a settlement to reduce their losses.

Lawsuits cost money, and if a defendant in your case believes they are at risk of spending more to defend their position and proceed with a trial than by settling, they may make you a more appealing offer to resolve your personal injury case. Parties may also try to resolve the claim through mediation, which is where a neutral third party helps with the settlement negotiations.

A settlement can occur at any point.

Going to Trial in a Personal Injury Case

Once you complete trial preparation and meet all court requirements, the court will set a trial date. Trials vary in how long they take to complete depending on the issues in dispute and the amount of evidence presented by either side. Your case will most likely be presented to a jury, but it can be presented only to the judge in what is called a “bench trial.” The “fact finder,” either the jury or the judge, will decide who is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. If there are multiple parties at fault, the court or jury will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved.

If the verdict is in favor of the plaintiff, you will receive damages as compensation. There is no way to predict how a trial will end, whether the verdict will be in your favor, or the amount of money you will receive, but your attorney can help you understand the strengths of your case and the benefits and drawbacks of going forward with a trial if your case warrants it.

Judgment and Appeal

When the court decides your case, that concludes the trial phase. If you are successful, the court will direct the defendant in the case to make payment of the compensation awarded through a judgment against them. If there were any legal problems with the case, either party may decide to appeal the verdict. Your attorney will thoroughly explain the appeals process. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury and you believe you have a right to compensation, contact our office to schedule a free case evaluation and consultation about what legal options are available for you.

How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?

June 29th, 2022 by Stacey

We do not plan for our lives to be interrupted or changed by an injury; it is common to think that it will never happen to us. If you do suffer an unexpected injury, it can be hard to know what you should do.

If someone else is at fault for your injury because, for example, they created a dangerous situation or were acting carelessly or recklessly, you may have a personal injury claim that could lead to a lawsuit. That person or business may be responsible for paying you money because your injury was their fault.

Knowing how a personal injury lawsuit works can help you decide what to do after an injury and what to anticipate if you chose to pursue your legal claim.

What Is the Purpose of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits seek money compensation for people who have been injured or suffered other losses due to another party’s negligent actions or inaction.

Most personal injury cases focus on negligence: whether the party who caused the injury was acting like a reasonably prudent person would. Other cases are based on intentional wrongdoing. For either type of claim, the defendant is a person or organization who caused or contributed to your injuries.

The law allows those who have been injured due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing to get money compensation for the injuries and losses they sustain.

Who Can Sue for a Personal Injury?

Anyone that suffers an injury due to another person’s negligence may have the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties who were responsible.  To make a successful claim and hold the defendant liable for your injuries, you prove each of the statutory elements of negligence.

At its most basic, negligence law requires that a plaintiff must establish:

  • The at-fault party had a duty of care they owed to you at the time of the injury;
  • The at-fault party, whether through their overt act or lack of action, breached the duty of care;
  • You suffered an injury or verifiable harm caused by the at-fault party’s breach of their duty of care; and
  • You have incurred damages because of your injury, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and more.

While anyone can file a lawsuit, these elements can be difficult to meet. Rushing into litigation may not be the best option for you, depending on the facts of your case. At Gruel Mills, we can review your case in a free consultation and determine if it would be worthwhile for you to pursue a legal claim.

Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law is a vast area of law that can cover a wide range of situations. All personal injury cases have different facts, injuries, and circumstances giving rise to the injuries, which can ultimately affect a victim’s recovery.

Some of the most common personal injury cases include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Bicycling or pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall cases
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Worker’s injuries

Common Injuries

How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?

A personal injury incident can cause any type of injury, from a minor strain or sprain to a life-changing head or spinal cord injury. Any injury that requires medical attention can result in high costs or lost wages if you are unable to work while you recover. Serious injuries can create challenges and stress as you try to support yourself and your family while focusing on your healing.

Common injuries in personal injury cases include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries or other head injuries
  • Neck, back, and spine injuries, such as torn or ruptured discs or fractures
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Burns
  • Amputations
  • Development of illness, such as from exposure to a dangerous substance
  • Broken bones
  • Torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments
  • Lacerations
  • Internal injuries

How Do You Know Whether a Lawsuit Is Necessary in Your Case?

Whether a lawsuit is necessary or worth pursuing is a complex question. The answer is often not clear immediately following a personal injury. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney at Gruel Mills is the first step in getting the answers on how best to proceed with your case and your likelihood of recovering compensation for your losses.

Many personal injury cases never go to trial or even require a lawsuit to be filed. A personal injury lawyer can often help a victim negotiate a successful settlement that reasonably and fairly covers the damages long before a trial is scheduled.

However, there are some situations where settling the case is not possible, or accepting the settlement can cause you to miss out on a large amount of compensation you could otherwise receive. Your lawyer is your best resource for understanding the intricacies of your case and when to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need.

Liability for a Personal Injury Accident

Who you sue for a personal injury is an important decision in your case. Your attorney will work with you to discover any party that may be liable for your damages.

The individual or entity directly responsible for your injury, or others you may not know about, can bear liability for your damages. Investigating who caused your losses can help you decide who to seek compensation from, whether through a lawsuit or an insurance claim.

Why Would You Sue an Insurance Company for a Personal Injury?

Lawsuits for personal injury generally proceed against the party responsible for the events leading to your injuries. However, if that defendant had liability insurance, their insurer will be very involved in the lawsuit and will likely be running the show. The insurer generally selects the lawyer who will represent the at-fault defendant and must approve any settlement that will be paid out of its policy.

Sometimes, it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the insurance company itself if there is a question about whether the insurance would cover your damages. You may need to ask the court to rule that the insurance company is on the hook for your injury.

What Is the Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit involves a number of steps, including discovery of evidence, the filing of motions, attempts to settle the case, and trial. Every case is different, and there is no way to know how long it will take your case to resolve. However, your attorney can help you understand what to expect and a general time frame for your case.

Hiring of a Personal Injury Attorney

Hiring an attorney to represent you in your personal injury case is the first step in the fight for compensation in your case. The first step is usually a free consultation, in which the lawyer will listen to the details of your case and ask what you hope to get out of a lawsuit. The lawyer may also want to do some preliminary investigating and review any documents you have, such as medical records. The lawyer will then decide whether they can accept your case and represent you.

Your lawyer will also explain the costs of the lawsuit and how they will get paid. You will be asked to sign an agreement setting forth this arrangement. Most personal injury lawyers do not require you to pay anything up front, nor do they charge by the hour. Rather, they will accept a set portion of whatever you recover as their payment. This is called a contingent fee.

Building Your Case

Once you are officially a client, your lawyer will investigate the case and gather evidence to support your claim—for example, what caused the events leading to your injuries, who is responsible, and the estimated damages you have and may incur. Attorneys will also take testimony from experts and other witnesses with insights into your case, injuries, and recovery.

Filing a Lawsuit

At some point, your attorney will file a lawsuit in court. The lawsuit can be filed at any time following a personal injury incident, so long as it is within the statute of limitations in your state. A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing your type of case.

In Michigan, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. However, there are certain exceptions that can extend this time, as well as requirements that have to be met long before this time in some cases. Your lawyer will keep track of these deadlines and make sure that your rights are protected.

Discovery and Mediation

As part of a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will engage in the discovery process with the other party or parties in the case. Discovery generally involves written questions, the exchange of relevant documents, and taking depositions of people who have relevant information. The defendant will likely take your deposition. This is not in court, but involves the attorneys asking you questions while you are under oath and a court report records your answers.

During the discovery process, you can find out what evidence the other parties may rely on and their views of the case. Your lawyer may have to file a motion asking the court to force the other side to disclose evidence if they do not cooperate.

Negotiating on Your Behalf

Negotiations are a crucial part of every personal injury case. If negotiations with an insurance company or party at fault succeed, you may get compensation for your losses while avoiding the necessity of going to trial. You may participate in a process called facilitation or mediation, where a neutral person tries to help the parties reach a settlement.

When you receive a settlement offer, your attorney will help you understand if it is a fair settlement that will cover all of your damages. However, the decision to accept or reject a settlement offer is always up to you.

When negotiations are not fruitful or reach a standstill, you have to start thinking about trial. Trial is always riskier than a settlement, because you could end up recovering nothing, or you could get an award that is much larger than the offered settlement. Your lawyer can provide an in-depth analysis of the strength of your case and the likelihood of a favorable result at trial. This can help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer.

Motion Practice

At certain points in the case, either party may file a motion asking the court to decide the case “as a matter of law.” These motions argue that there is no need to present the case to a jury at trial because one side must win the case under the existing law, based on key facts that are not disputed by the parties. These motions can result in your case being dismissed or a ruling that you are entitled to recovery. Your lawyer will file and argue these motions on your behalf.

Personal Injury Trial

If negotiations and mediations are unsuccessful, your case may go to trial. During a personal injury trial, each side will present evidence, arguments, and witnesses to support their position. In most cases, a jury will decide what happened and whether you are entitled to compensation. If you win, they will award you an amount of money that must be paid by the defendant. Alternatively, your case could be presented only to the judge, who will make those decisions.


If either side is unhappy with the outcome of the trial or an earlier motion, they can file an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The appeal must identify something that the trial court did wrong and that the law requires a different outcome. It can take many months to get a decision from the Court of Appeals if an appeal is filed.


What Steps Can You Take to Prepare for a Potential Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Your attorney will handle most of what needs to be done for your case. However, you can help strengthen your case by taking the following steps.

Gather Your Evidence

When you are injured – if you can without causing yourself further harm – take photos and videos of the scene and get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident. If you are with a friend or family member, ask them to collect this information. If warranted, call the police, who will document the events leading to your injury.

As you get medical treatment, keep all of your medical records and take pictures of your injuries. Write down all of the ways your injuries are impacting your life. If there is news coverage or a post on social media about the incident that caused your injuries, save a copy.

In your first meetings with your attorney, they will want to review any evidence you have. Your lawyer will work to collect additional evidence that was not available to you, but it is a great benefit to your case if you provide all of the evidence in your possession to your attorney.

Keep Thorough and Accurate Records

Another practical step to help your injury case is to gather your thoughts and experiences from the day of the incident and your recovery. Include your recollections of what happened and how you feel as your injuries heal and you receive treatment. Also include any pertinent statements or conversations you may have had with other parties to the case that could be relevant in proving fault or the extent of your injuries.

Call An Attorney as Soon as Possible After a Personal Injury

To work through the personal injury lawsuit process, you should have an attorney representing you  as soon as possible after your injury. Contact the experienced and compassionate personal injury attorneys at Gruel Mills today for a free consultation on your case. They can help you understand what compensation you may be entitled to from the parties responsible for your injuries.

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