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What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

While the thought of filing a lawsuit after an accident may seem overwhelming, it’s important to educate yourself about what to expect as part of a typical case. This knowledge will lessen the confusion and stress you may feel about the process. Whether you have experienced a spinal cord injury or were the victim of a medical malpractice incident, the first step after getting medical attention is to contact a personal injury attorney in Southwest Virginia to look out for your best interests as you face the next steps.

Let’s assume you already sought medical treatment for your injuries. Here are the next steps in a personal injury lawsuit.


It’s important to meet with a personal injury attorney who has experience in your type of injury and case to get their professional opinion as to whether or not you have a valid claim. Most Southwest Virginia personal injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations, so take advantage of that. When meeting with the lawyer, bring along supporting documentation, medical records, and notes.

The attorney will ask you a lot of questions about your case, but you should also take this time to ask them questions as well. The attorney you settle on to take your case could ultimately spell the difference between winning and losing your case. Choosing carefully takes a lot of research and questions. Ask about their years in business, experience in taking on cases like yours, their success rate, and more. Select your attorney and begin the next steps.

Case Investigation and Research

Next comes the research phase, which your attorney will take care of. This will give them a better understanding of exactly how you were injured, how severe those injuries are, and what the possible damages and costs will be. Your lawyer will go back and forth with your insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement. Many times, settlements can be reached without having to head to court.

Filing of Court Documents

Sometimes, settlements just can’t be reached. Your attorney, after all, is there to ensure you get fair compensation for your injuries, and will present both options to you. You are ultimately the one who can decide which way you want to go: take the settlement or file a lawsuit. If you decide to move forward with your personal injury lawsuit, the attorney will file and serve a complaint along with all other required paperwork. You will be listed as the plaintiff, while the person or persons you are suing will be listed as defendants. The complaint will outline the nature of your collision and associated injuries, the legal basis for which the defendant is being held liable, and what damages you are seeking.

Pretrial Phases

  • Complaint and Answer Phase: These documents will detail your allegations in terms of how the collision occurred and that you were injured. Once filed, the Complaint will be served to the defendant, and that defendant has 28 days to Answer the complaint in a document whereby they admit to or deny the allegations.
  • Discovery Phase: Your attorney will gather pertinent testimony, documents, evidence, and information. Written discovery includes interrogatories and requests for documents. Oral discovery involves depositions of witnesses and experts.
  • Motions Phase: The parties may file motions to ask the Court to rule on issues, take action on their behalf, either to dismiss one of your claims, or dismiss the entire case.


Mediation can take place at any time throughout the court case. This alternative dispute resolution approach involves both parties, their lawyers, and a mediator. The cases on both sides are presented and settlement negotiations begin, but these are non-binding. Neither party has to agree to accept or deny.


If a settlement is still not reached, your case will go to trial. After hearing both sides, the judge or jury will make a determination if the defendant is liable for your injuries and, if so, how much they must pay you. The monetary reward will be distributed to you by your lawyer. Barring any appeals by the defense, your personal injury case is now concluded.

Contact Altizer Law

Our personal injury lawyers in Roanoke VA would be happy to walk you through the steps involved in your personal injury case. We welcome you to call us for a free, no-obligation consultation today at 540-345-2000, whether your case involves medical malpractice, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI).