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Understanding the Litigation Process

Old law books and gavel

When you suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligence, problems such as medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional trauma are just a few of the issues you must confront. While your case may or may not eventually go to trial, a period of litigation might be necessary to secure the proper amount of compensation for your harm from the party responsible for causing your injuries. In such a situation, the Martinsburg, WV personal injury law firm, Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson can be an important resource in helping you understand what litigation is and what the litigation process entails. See below for a discussion of this important area, and contact our office if you’ve been hurt by the negligence of another in West Virginia.

In the simplest terms, litigation is the process of taking legal action. It is a systematized method for resolving disputes within the court system. However, the process is much more intricate than it might initially appear.

In West Virginia, a lawsuit is generally initiated by filing a ‘complaint.’ This legal document, drafted by your attorney, details the nature of your dispute and how you’ve been wronged. It is filed with the court and served to the party you’re holding accountable, referred to as the defendant. Once the defendant receives the complaint, they must respond, typically within a month. This response may agree with your claim, contest it, or ask for its dismissal. Their response, also referred to as the ‘answer,’ can contain admissions or denials to the original complaint, as well as any defenses the defendant wishes to raise.

Next comes the ‘discovery’ phase, a crucial stage where both sides gather and exchange information related to the case. This phase can involve depositions (questioning under oath), interrogatories (written questions), requests for documents, and more. Both sides are allowed to fully examine the evidence to prepare their arguments.

Throughout the litigation process, your attorney will engage in various ‘pre-trial’ activities. These might include settlement negotiations, pre-trial motions to resolve specific issues (like the admissibility of evidence), and trial preparations.

If a settlement is not reached, the case proceeds to trial. Here, both parties present their case before a judge or jury, who then decide the outcome based on the evidence and arguments provided. The judge or jury will decide if the defendant is legally responsible for your injuries and, if so, how much compensation you should receive.

Remember that in personal injury cases, you must demonstrate that the defendant was negligent and that this negligence led to your injury. This process can be complex, requiring expert testimonies, medical records, and more. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial in these situations, as they can provide invaluable guidance, knowledge, and support.

Litigation can be a lengthy and complicated process, but it serves a vital purpose. It offers a structured, fair, and transparent way to resolve disputes and seek compensation. However, it’s worth noting that most personal injury claims do not end up in court. Many are settled before trial, often during the negotiation phase.

Navigating litigation can be challenging and overwhelming, particularly when you’re already dealing with the impact of an injury. The support of our team at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson here in Martinsburg, West Virginia, can make a significant difference. We can guide you through each step of the process, advocate for your rights, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome.

Understanding litigation and the litigation process is essential when pursuing a personal injury claim. While it might seem intimidating, having a knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury attorney by your side can ease the journey. Our goal at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson is to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries so that you can focus on what’s truly important – your recovery.

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