If you have suffered a personal injury, then it’s important that you thoroughly explore all avenues to get the compensation you need and deserve. Filing a lawsuit is one means of legal recourse that can help you get back on your feet. Of course, many personal injury lawsuits end up being settled out of court. Sometimes this is the best option for both parties. On the other hand, there is always the possibility that your case will end up in the courtroom. If that happens, it may mean a lot of mental and emotional stress for you. Trials can go on for several months before reaching a verdict. Thus, it may seem like your life gets “put on hold” until the jury’s final decision is made. How can you adequately prepare for a courtroom trial?
In this article, we’ll discuss a few steps you can take to ease your anxiety, and (if need be) win your personal injury case in the courtroom.
It’s absolutely imperative that you have a doctor’s report to back up your injury claims. Even if it’s obvious that you are in pain, without the necessary documentation from a medical professional the opposing attorney can easily claim (or at least imply) that you’re merely pretending to be injured.
If at all possible, you should visit your doctor shortly after your accident — perhaps within a day or two. If you didn’t get the pertinent medical records then, ask for them now.
In addition, you’ll need to follow whatever treatment plan your doctor prescribed for you. If it becomes known that you haven’t, then the defendant may be able to use that knowledge against you, claiming that you would be feeling better if you’d listened to your doctor’s advice. When it comes to the medical aspects of your injury, you must do things “by the book.”
Trying to represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit is risky business. If you’re not a seasoned legal professional, then you won’t know the in’s and out’s of a typical personal injury case. You won’t understand which documents to present as evidence. You won’t know how to handle a settlement offer, or gauge whether it’s fair.
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For these and many other reasons, you need to find a reputable, experienced personal injury attorney to represent your case. Your lawyer helps you to determine if you have a strong enough case to proceed with your lawsuit. Then, he or she clearly explains your options in the event of a settlement offer.
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for many personal injury lawsuits is set at 2 years (barring extenuating circumstances). Even though you have that long to take legal action, it’s important to collect all the relevant evidence for your claim as soon as possible after your injury. This may include items like:
- Your injury report from the doctor (see point #1, above)
- A copy of the police report from the accident (e.g., if injured in a car wreck)
- The negligent party’s contact and insurance details
- Eye-witness statements
You want to gather all of this evidence quickly before memories start fading and necessary documentation has a chance to get “lost in the shuffle”.
You have to be really careful in terms of what you do during the course of the lawsuit. Remember that all of your statements, actions, and even social media posts could potentially be used against you in a court of law.
For example, in many areas, people naturally respond to the question “How are you doing?” by saying, “I’m fine” — even if they’re really not. If you respond to the defendant’s lawyer that way, just to be polite, then they could distort your meaning and claim that you’re not really suffering as a result of your injury.
Granted, that may be a slightly extreme example, but it well illustrates the point. Don’t do anything to weaken your own case before a final settlement or verdict has been reached.
Always remember that your lawyer is on your team — and good team members communicate with each other on a regular basis. A reputable attorney will keep you updated on any significant developments in your case. At the same time, it’s important that you also let your attorney know about any changes to your situation. If you have questions, reach out to your legal team for answers.
Finally, you’ll need to discuss with your attorney whether a reasonable settlement offer is something you’d consider. In many cases, defendants may make such an offer to avoid expensive legal fees, a protracted courtroom battle, and a costly guilty verdict. However, it’s important for you to understand the minimum amount you would take, and to discuss that with your legal team. And if you’re determined to take your case to court, then your attorney can get ready for a courtroom trial.
Of course, there’s a lot more involved in preparing for a courtroom trial — but with the help of a discerning, experienced personal injury lawyer, you can navigate through the complexities of a legal case and successfully come out the other side.