Personal injury lawsuits are some of the most common cases that are pending in courts in Oklahoma. Every year thousands of Oklahoma residents suffer injuries that are caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness, including injuries suffered in car accidents, workplace accidents and medical malpractice incidents. However, many people don’t know the “nuts and bolts” of how these types of lawsuits proceed.
So, what is the step-by-step process of a personal injury lawsuit? The first step is to file a complaint with a court that has jurisdiction to hear the case, which is typically a court located where the accident occurred. The complaint spells out who the parties in the case will be, a well as the basic premise for why the injured party is seeking financial compensation. From there, the parties involved in the case will engage in “discovery,” which is an exchange of information about the specific event at issue in the case, among other topics. This stage of the process could last weeks or months.
Most steps in the early to middle portions of a pending case are building toward specific events, such as mediation or even a trial. If the case is moving toward mediation, there may be a chance that the case will settle before there is any need to proceed to a trial. In fact, the vast majority of civil lawsuits do settle without trials.
However, in some cases a trial is necessary. The trial is the opportunity for both sides in the case to present evidence and attempt to convince the decision-maker, whether that is a judge or jury, that events unfolded in the incident in question in a certain way, and, thus, fault should be assigned according to that view of events. Ultimately, whether a personal injury case goes through mediation or to trial, the plaintiff’s goal is to attempt to secure financial compensation from the responsible party.