January 20, 2022 | Personal Injury
Individuals who sustain injuries caused by the actions of others in West Virginia may be able to recover compensation for their losses. It is not uncommon for personal injury claims to reach a resolution through insurance settlements, but that is not always possible.
In some cases, it may be necessary for an injury victim to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. The personal injury lawsuit process in West Virginia can be complicated, and there are various steps involved that injury victims need to be aware of.
The first step in these situations is filing the personal injury lawsuit in civil court. According to West Virginia law, these cases must be filed within two years after the date the injury occurs, or the plaintiff will be unable to recover the compensation they are entitled to.
After a personal injury case is filed in civil court, it will enter the discovery phase of the process. This is a pretrial process in a lawsuit where every party is able to obtain evidence from the other party or parties involved. This is absolutely necessary. Both the plaintiff (the injury victim) and the defendant (the alleged negligent party) and their legal teams should have access to all evidence related to the case so they can prepare for a possible trial.
While the discovery process is ongoing, both sides will likely continue their investigations into the incident. This will include working to gather photos or video surveillance, accident reports, and additional testimony from witnesses or experts. If either the plaintiff or the defendant uncovers new evidence, they will have to turn this evidence over to the other side as part of the discovery process.
Discovery for a personal injury case can last for months or even years. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney during a free consultation to learn more about your specific case.
It may be necessary for the plaintiff or the defendant to “depose” witnesses who may have a role in the personal injury case. This can include eyewitnesses, the plaintiff or the defendant themselves, or any other individual who has relevant information that may come up at trial. Depositions are given under oath come up, but they do not happen in the courtroom. Anything an individual says in a deposition must be truthful, and their words could come back later in the case, even at trial. Depositions give both sides a good chance to examine witnesses and further define the facts of the case.
As the discovery process and deposition process goes on, attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant may continue to negotiate in an effort to reach a resolution before trial. In some cases, a judge may order the two sides to go through have a mediation process with a third-party neutral mediator.
It is not uncommon for one side, after reviewing the evidence, to determine that it is in the best interest to settle or drop the case. The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are resolved before they go to trial.
If a resolution cannot be reached, a trial date will be set, and both sides will have a chance to make their case to a judge or personal injury jury. The judge or jury will hear the evidence and then make a decision about whether or not the defendant is liable for the injuries to the plaintiff. They will also decide how much compensation the defendant will owe the plaintiff.
If the plaintiff or the defendant disagrees with the decision of the judge or jury, they will have the option to appeal the case to a higher court. This can significantly draw out the amount of time it takes for a case to ultimately be resolved.