How Litigation Works in a Texas Personal Injury Case
You've been hurt. The person who caused your accident refuses to admit it was his fault and won't pay for the damages caused. What now? You have two options: 1) do nothing or 2) get the legal system involved. Option 1 is foreign to us, and because you're reading this, likely not what you're considering either. Option 2 is what this article, and subsequent articles related to this topic, are all about.
In our society, there are no forms to fill out with some governmental body that says you've been hurt and you deserve to be compensated. Further, while our grandparents may regale us with claims that "back in my day, when we did something wrong, we owned up to it and fixed the problem," our culture seems increasingly averse to taking personal responsibility for our actions. Therefore, what you need is someone or some entity to impose justice. In America, that's the court. Litigating a case is invoking the court's authority, making a claim that you need justice, and asking the court to use the power it has to force the person or company that hurt you to pay up.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- How does litigation work in a personal injury case?
- What is the litigation process?
- How does litigation work in the state of Texas?
Without getting too high on our soapbox, the courthouse is often the only place where everyone is given a fair chance. When done correctly, the biggest company in the world and a lone individual without any resources are on an equal playing field. "Litigation" is what we call the playing field. There, the plaintiff and defendant each have their chance to find out what happened in the accident, who's responsible, who suffered what, and then develop their side of the story to a jury. The reason big companies and wealthy individuals are willing to spend so much money on their own lawyers is because the court has the power to force them to pay for what they have done.
Occasionally, litigation happens in different forums than courts. The "court" may be an arbitrator or a state agency. But the point is the same: you're asking someone with power to use that power on another person to get you something.
Over 25 years, we've litigated each stage of a case countless times
Below, we outline the main stages of the litigation process. There's a lot to cover and can feel intimidating, but our attorneys have been down this road for literally thousands of people already. We just want you to have an idea of the journey ahead.
Every case follows the same pattern:
- Selecting the appropriate court venue: The Texas rules about where your case can be filed are complex. This matters because where your lawsuit is filed (called the venue) can increase or decrease the value of your case dramatically.
- Establishing your right to be there: Courts must have "jurisdiction" over your claim. Just like you'd assume that a federal tax court is not where to file a divorce case, there are very specific rules about who is allowed to litigate a case and where.
- Filing the lawsuit: The lawsuit itself is the formal document that starts the case. It explains to the court in general terms why you're there, what the defendant did, and why you're entitled to money
- Conducting discovery: It's vital to have all the facts. Under Texas rules, litigants must exchange relevant information and evidence so the truth can be found.
- Holding depositions: Witnesses can be placed under oath before trial and asked everything they know about the case.
- Mediating the case: Before a full-blown jury trial, courts always order parties to try and settle. They then meet with a "mediator" who attempts to facilitate a settlement.
- Going to trial: If no settlement occurs, it's off to the courthouse. There, the lawyers argue to the jury why their clients are right.
- Arbitration: If the parties had previously agreed to submit any disputes to a private arbitrator rather than a court, the case is decided outside the court system.
- Applying the rules of court: Throughout the litigation process, attorneys must follow intricate rules about evidence, how and when to file specific documents, and how to object
Give Grossman Law Offices a Call:
There are plenty of "litigation attorneys" out there, but your case deserves a law firm with the track record of winning at each stage of litigation. Your case can't be won at any step prior to trial or arbitration, but it certainly can be lost at any one of them. The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have decades of experience of winning for their clients. If you've been hurt, pick up the phone for a completely free, completely confidential conversation about what your rights are.
Other helpful articles about personal injury cases: