How a Lawsuit Works in Pennsylvania

How a Lawsuit Works in Pennsylvania

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*This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

A personal injury can be a devastating event for both your quality of life and your wallet. While it may not alleviate your physical suffering, receiving compensation for that injury will ease your financial burden. Filing a lawsuit in Pennsylvania may seem like an overwhelming and even daunting task, but with the right information, and the right attorney, it doesn’t have to be.Was Your Injury the Result of the Acts or Omissions of Another?If the answer is yes, then it is time to hire an attorney. The first step of the lawsuit process is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. This will ensure you file all of the correct paperwork and meet all deadlines. Proving legal fault in personal injury cases is no simple task. This is especially true of cases involving medical malpractice.

What Happens First? 

In cases of medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, the lawsuit process will vary from that of a non-medical personal injury. If your injury is the direct result of the mistake of a medical professional, then the first steps typically look like the following:

  1. Investigation: Your lawyer investigates your claim, background, and medical record.
  2. Complaint: An outline of your case is delivered to the defendant.
  3. Certificate of Merit: This is a written statement from a licensed professional stating that it is probable your injury was the result of improper medical care.

 

For any other personal injury case in Pennsylvania, there are four initial steps:

  1. Preliminary Investigation: An investigation is undertaken to determine if your claim warrants a full investigation.
  2. Writ: Notifies the defendant that a civil case has been filed against him or her.
  3. Pre-Complaint Investigation: A more thorough investigation undertaken to shape the case.
  4. Complaint: The outline of your case is filed and served to the defendant.

 

Once the Complaint has been served, the suit will generally proceed in the same way for any personal injury case. The defendant has up to 60 days to file their Answer to the Complaint. The Answer may come in one of three forms: Admitted, denied, or not enough knowledge to do either. Following the defendant's answer are the phases leading up to trial.

The Pretrial Phases

In Pennsylvania, the pretrial phases mainly consist of gathering information about the facts of the case, and each side building their case. The information gleaned during this time will be critical to the success of your case, and its collection rests heavily on your attorney’s breadth of experience and resources. The following are the steps that take place prior to trial:

  1. Case Management Conference: The judge, attorneys, and involved parties meet to discuss the issues involved in the case.
  2. Discovery: Each party gathers testimony, evidence, documents, and information from each other pertaining to the case.
  3. Deposition: You and the defendant answer questions under oath.
  4. Expert Witness Reports: Expert witnesses provide reports to inform the court on matters outside its expertise.
  5. Pretrial Motions: The defendant may file motions to get the court to take action on their behalf.
  6. Mediation: Each side presents their case and determines whether or not a settlement is possible.

Trial

A trial is composed of six parts: Jury selection, opening statements, cross-examination, closing arguments, jury deliberation, and verdict. It is during this time that the judge and jury will examine all evidence and decide whether or not to hold the defendant responsible for your injuries, and to what extent. In some instances, your case may not be over after trial, even if the jury gave a verdict in your favor. The losing party has 20 days to appeal the case and ask for a higher court to reconsider the verdict. This is not typical, as the process is somewhat limited.

Get the Expert Assistance You Need

The lawsuit process is a complex one with each step requiring expert decision-making skills on the part of your attorney. Ross Feller Casey has an unmatched track record of success in litigating personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits. Our staff of experienced attorneys and medical professionals will work together to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your personal injury. Contact Ross Feller Casey today for a free review of your case.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.