What is the Process for Litigating a Personal Injury Claims in Tennessee?
Let's assume that you and your lawyer have not been able to settle your personal injury case before a lawsuit was filed. What happens next?
Your lawyer will prepare a lawsuit for you and that will also be served on the defendant, that is the person you've sued in the case.
When that person, that defendant gets that lawsuit, he or she will turn it over to their insurance company. And then that insurance company will hire a lawyer.
That lawyer will work with the defendant and he or she will have 30 days to file a response called an answer to your lawsuit.
The next stage of litigation is called the discovery phase. And it is an exchange of information between both the plaintiff, that is you, and the defendant who is the person being sued. And that information exchange concerns the case.
The defendant is going to want to know about the witnesses and about the accidents you have suffered and the damages you claim. And you are going to want to understand the defendant's explanation for how the accident occurred and why he or she maintains that it is not their fault.
That exchange of information can take several months. As part of that, depositions are taken. Depositions are out of court statements where the other lawyer gets to ask you questions and your lawyer gets to ask the defendant questions about the accident and the injuries that were suffered.
So that is the discovery phase.
The next phase is the exchange of expert witnesses. In a relatively simple case, your only expert witness may be the doctor who treated you for your injuries.
In a more complicated case like a medical malpractice case, you have to have experts explain what the defendant did wrong. And how that mistake caused injuries to you. You may have to have an economist or a professional talking about the future medical expenses that you will need.
That process can take several months. And then you will have a trial. And the trial will be held in the county where your lawsuit was filed. The trial may take 2 days or 3 days. In complicated cases it can take several weeks. We've had trials last as long as 13 days before.
So the entire process is quite structured. It is all subject to court supervision. But it is a very organized process designed to do two things. Number one, exchange information to facilitate a settlement. And if that can't happen, to use that information that was exchanged to increase the likelihood of a fair trial.
That's the way the process works in Tennessee. Fortunately we've aided hundreds and hundreds of people in the last 32 years guiding them through this process. We are intimately familiar with how it works and how to get the information that we need to help you get a good settlement or if necessary have a good result at a trial.