When working with a dedicated drunk driving accident attorney, an injured party is left almost exclusively to focus on their own recovery. All of the legal heavy lifting is done by their capable lawyer, including negotiations with the insurance company, letter writing, chasing down witnesses and insurance policies, and obtaining reports and investigations.
However, at a few points in the process, the injured plaintiff will be expected to participate and provide their attorney with necessary information and decisions. Most often, these points are at the beginning of the case—such as during an initial consultation when a person explains the accident from their perspective and their desired outcome from the lawsuit—as well as determining whether they wish to settle or take their case to court. Reach out to a well-practiced attorney to learn more about the role of a plaintiff in a Chattanooga drunk driver accident claim.
While a knowledgeable legal professional could provide their advice on whether or not to accept a settlement offer, the decision is ultimately up to the injured person. One of the roles of a plaintiff in a drunk driver accident claim in Chattanooga is to make the final call in accepting an offer, or declining and proceeding to court. If a settlement cannot be reached, the plaintiff will then provide information to help their attorney answer written discovery sought by the defense.
After the exchange and discovery of information between the parties, it is likely that depositions will be scheduled for the plaintiff, the defendant, and any witnesses or experts that have been hired by either party. Following depositions, there is often another round of settlement discussions or mediations in which the client may have to participate.
Mediation is an informal settlement negotiation where a neutral third-party tries to create a compromise between the prosecution and defense to get the case settled out of court. The mediator will listen to each side’s views and then offer their opinion about the strengths and weaknesses in a person’s case. They will then offer guidance on what a viable settlement range might be to help both parties resolve the case and move forward with their lives.
If mediation is unsuccessful and no settlement can be agreed upon, the case will proceed to court. Another role of a plaintiff in a Chattanooga DUI crash injury case is to go through preparation for giving their testimony. This usually involves significant time practicing with their attorney so they can put their best foot forward when they give their official witness in front of a jury.
Testimony consists of a person’s own statements plus friendly questions asked by their own legal counsel, and concludes with cross-examination from the defendant’s lawyer. While this process can be intimidating for some, an experienced attorney could help prepare an individual for all of the questions they will likely be asked by the defense so that they are secure and confident when it is time to take the stand.
In most personal injury cases, trial usually lasts two to three days but depending on the complexity of the case and the number of witnesses involved, it could take longer. The plaintiff is expected to appear in court for the duration of the case. After a trial concludes, the jury may deliberate anywhere from an hour to several days to determine the verdict.
After a jury gives their final verdict, there could be appeals on either side, and the case could extend even longer. However, many personal injury lawsuits reach a settlement after a verdict, and that is the conclusion of the claim. Most cases take between 18 and 24 months after the filing of the lawsuit to resolve. In Tennessee, claims that result in pre-suit are usually finalized within 8 to 10 months of the accident.
Tennessee has a short statute of limitations of only one year for an individual to file a claim following an injury from a drunk driving wreck. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with a seasoned attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
An accomplished lawyer could help you understand all of your options in terms of medical treatment, dealing with insurance companies, as well as the role of a plaintiff in a Chattanooga drunk driver accident claim. Call today to get the information you need to make an informed decision.