The Stages of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Millions Wonfor our clients

Experienced TruckAccident Attorneys

Board CertifiedAttorneys

You OnlyPay us if we win

Personal Injury Lawsuit Stages – Part 1

When you have been the victim of someone else’s carelessness, you want the legal process to move swiftly, so that you can get the compensation you need to cover your losses and move forward. It’s a process, though, and it can take a while to actually get the case in front of a jury. If you know the steps involved in the process, though, it can help make the time seem shorter. Contact a personal injury lawyer with all your questions.

The Pleadings

Before anything will happen, you’ll need to file a complaint with the clerk of the court. You must do this within a specific period of time after your injury, as set forth in the Statute of Limitations in your state. In New Jersey, that’s two years from the date of your accident or when you discovered your injury, if it wasn’t readily apparent.

In the complaint, you’ll name all parties who potentially contributed in any way to your injury, identify the ways in which they were liable for your injuries and ask the court for damages, a monetary award to compensate you for your losses. Once you’ve filed your complaint, the defendants will have a specific period of time in which to file a response, or answer, to your complaint. If the defendants don’t file their answer on time, you may be able to get a default judgment.


Once the complaint and answer have been filed, you typically move into the discovery phase of the process. Discovery is a legal term that refers to the gathering of evidence supporting or refuting a claim. In the American legal system, the concept of open discovery is the rule. That means that any evidence you obtain must be shared with the other party. Open discovery promotes a reasoned decision by an informed jury.

Discovery can take a number of different forms, including:

  • Depositions—In a deposition, a potential witness is sworn to tell the truth and faces questions from attorneys on both sides. A court reporter is present and prepares a permanent record of the testimony.
  • Requests for production—Either party may ask the other party to produce documents or other evidentiary items that are relevant to the case.
  • Interrogatories—These are written questions pertaining to the case, submitted by one party to another party. In most instances, the court will establish a limit on the number of interrogatories.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Stages – Part 2

There are several stages in a personal injury lawsuit. When the complaint and answer have been timely filed and the parties have completed discovery, it’s time for trial, right? Not quite yet. It’s common practice to resolve a number of issues before the trial is scheduled, and for good reasons. First, based on the information obtained during discovery, either or both of the parties may be prepared to ask the court to issue some preliminary rulings. In addition, there may have been evidence presented at a deposition or in other discovery that will be inadmissible at trial, for any of a number of reasons. The court will want to resolve any evidentiary disputes before those matters are discussed in front of a jury, as it could be prejudicial to one of the parties to have a jury hear inappropriate evidence. Contact a personal injury lawyer for more information.

There are typically two types of motions during this phase of a personal injury action: dispositive motions and evidentiary motions:

  • Dispositive motions—A dispositive motion seeks a final ruling, avoiding the need to address certain issues at trial. The dispositive motion may seek to throw out one or all of the injured party’s claims, or it may seek a “summary judgment” in the plaintiff’s favor. For example, if the defendants believe that the plaintiff has not produced evidence to demonstrate all the required elements of a claim, that can be the basis for a motion to dismiss that claim. On the other hand, if the plaintiff believes the defendants have not stated a valid defense, or that there are no factual disputes regarding the facts, the plaintiff may ask the court for an immediate ruling in his or her favor.
  • Evidentiary motions—If the parties are aware of evidentiary disputes, it’s in their best interests to have those resolved before trial. Evidence that is inadmissible, but is only ruled so after a jury has heard it, may be the basis for a mistrial, if the court perceives that the party introducing the evidence knew it would not be admissible and knew it would be prejudicial.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Stages – Part 3

There are many steps in a personal injury lawsuit. Now you’ve completed discovery and all pre-trial motions have been argued and resolved. You’re almost ready for opening statements, but there are just a couple of important steps left. Contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance with the steps in your personal injury lawsuit.

The first thing you can expect, once all motions have been argued, is that the court will strongly encourage you to find a way to settle the case. Trials are complex, expensive, time-consuming and exhausting for everyone involved. The judge will likely try to make you see why it’s in your best interests not to go in front of a jury.

However, before you can make an opening statement to a jury, you need to have a jury. Before the actual trial commences, you’ll need to go through what’s known in the legal profession as voir dire, the seating of a jury. The process can vary in minor details from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but typically goes as follows:

  • Potential jurors are randomly selected from a pool
  • Those jurors are questioned by attorneys for both sides, with questions typically designed to determine whether the prospective juror can render an unbiased decision.
  • Attorneys pick the jury by exercising (or not exercising) challenges to potential jurors. There are two types of challenges—peremptory and for cause challenges. A peremptory challenge allows you to dismiss a jury for any reason—the color of their hair, skin, clothes they are wearing, etc. There are a limited number of peremptory challenges. Challenges for cause, on the other hand, are unlimited, but must be based on legitimate cause. Ultimately, the judge will determine whether a party has stated sufficient cause to dismiss a potential juror.

In addition, some courts will have the parties submit proposed jury instructions before trial. Jurors are charged with making determinations of fact, but once they have done so, they must apply the facts to the law. However, they are not expected to know the law, so they are provided with jury instruction, telling them what legal conclusion they must come to based on their findings of fact.

Contact Our Office

If you or someone you love has been injured at work in New Jersey, we can help you seek full and fair compensation for your losses. For a private meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at 732-247-3600 or in Somerville at 908-448-2560.

Contact Our Office

To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

Reach Out For A


Multiple Offices Across New Jersey

New Brunswick

111 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901


21 North Bridge Street
Somerville, NJ 08876


31 W. Main Street 1st Floor
Freehold, NJ 07728

Free Case Review

Free Case Review