Defending yourself against a personal injury lawsuit involves several phases of litigation. An attorney can help guide the legal defence and give advice about the case's strengths and weaknesses as well as assess whether to settle or proceed to trial.
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Employ risk management measures. If you're involved in a car accident, snap some photographs of the cars while at the accident scene, if you can. Photos can become strong evidence depending on the amount of damage. Avoid driving a potentially dangerous vehicle by periodically checking the vehicle's lights, tires, and brakes for proper operation.
To protect yourself from lawsuits based on someone falling or otherwise injuring himself on your property, set up surveillance cameras to capture any accidents on tape, and make the premises physically sound. Ron Leshnower at the Nolo website advises routine inspections to ensure your property is clean and free of potential hazards.
If the injured party sues you, contact your auto or property insurance company because your liability coverage includes attorney representation for a covered loss, and your carrier pays the bills associated with the defence. If you do not have insurance coverage, consider retaining personal counsel to represent you.
According to the Diploma Guide website, a defence attorney advises and advocates on your behalf. This includes reviewing the lawsuit for proper service of process, responding to the allegations asserted in the legal papers and reviewing what information to request from the injured party during discovery.
The injured party may take your deposition, which is testimony given under oath and recorded by a court reporter. This is an important part of the case because the other side hears your version of the loss and rates how you'll likely come across in front of a jury. You, in turn, may take the injured party's deposition.
Your insurance company must decide to make a settlement offer or proceed to trial. The pros and cons of the case are weighed. Depending on several factors, it might make sense to settle the personal injury claim within the policy limit of liability coverage and forgo a trial and the risk of a jury verdict coming in over the policy limit.
If negotiations do not settle the case, a trial seems the likely way to resolve the dispute. The attorney will go over the case with you, including preparation for your trial testimony and all available defences.
Tips and warnings
- Should you proceed to trial and the jury returns a verdict against you in excess of the policy limit of liability coverage, according to attorney, Ann Cherkos of Dwyer Williams Potter Attorneys, you are responsible for the excess amount above the policy limit. For example, if your policy limit is £65,000, and the jury returns a verdict for £81,250, your insurance company pays £65,000 and you would be responsible for the additional £16,250.
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