Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | April 26, 2022 | Personal Injury
Most personal injury cases in New York settle without filing a lawsuit. However, some cases cannot settle without court intervention. If your injury lawyer files a lawsuit, it helps to understand the parties involved and the role of each.
Who is the Plaintiff in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The plaintiff is the injured party. For example, a person injured in a slip and fall at a hotel or the driver injured in a car accident can be a plaintiff. In addition, a plaintiff might be someone who was injured by a defective product.
There could be more than one plaintiff. For example, the plaintiffs may be several people injured in a commercial truck accident.
Who is the Defendant in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The defendant is the party who allegedly injured the plaintiff. The defendant’s actions directly led to the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. As with plaintiffs, there could be more than one defendant in a personal injury case.
Examples of defendants include:
- A motorist, pedestrian, or bicyclist (traffic accidents)
- Product manufacturers (product liability)
- Property owners, landlords, and business owners (premises liability)
- Physicians, health care facilities, nurses, and other medical providers (medical malpractice claims)
- Dog owners, property owners, and tenants (dog bite cases)
- Government agencies (slip and fall accidents, car accidents, public transportation injuries, etc.)
- Contractors, subcontractors, and property owners (construction accidents)
Any party who causes another person harm could be named a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. The jury decides whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. If so, the jurors determine how much to award the plaintiff for damages.
Other Parties to a Personal Injury Lawsuit
There could be other parties to the personal injury lawsuit.
- Joinder – A person who joins as a plaintiff because they have the right to damages due to the same incident.
- Impleader – A third party who is brought into the lawsuit. For example, the defendant sues another party as a third-party defendant.
- Intervention – Someone who has a statutory right to intervene in a lawsuit.
- Interpleader – A party who believes that they have a claim arising from the same or similar circumstances joins the case to compel other parties to litigate a dispute.
Your attorney will explain each of the roles to you as they appear in your case. If you have questions, you should contact your lawyer.
What Happens After I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New York?
Each personal injury case is unique. However, several steps are common in injury cases.
The Defendant Replies to the Complaint
The defendant has the opportunity to answer the allegations in your complaint. The defendant may also file a counterclaim. The counterclaim could assert allegations of fault against you or include affirmative defenses.
For example, the defendant might argue that the statute of limitations bars your claim. All personal injury claims are subject to the filing deadlines set by the New York statutes of limitations.
Another defense might be allegations of comparative fault. The defendant might allege that you are partially to blame for the cause of your injury. If the jury agrees, your compensation could be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Each party may request information and documents from the opposing party. The evidence can help each party determine the strength of the other party’s case.
Examples of discovery include:
- Requests to Produce Documents
- Requests for Admissions
If either party refuses to participate in discovery, the other party can petition the court for an order to compel discovery.
The parties may negotiate a settlement after completing the discovery phase. The settlement negotiations may be informal. However, the parties may also agree to enter mediation or arbitration to settle the case.
Pretrial motions resolve legal issues before a trial begins. For example, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss the case or suppress evidence. The plaintiff could ask for a summary judgment or might file a motion to include expert witness testimony.
Trial and Verdict
During the trial, each party presents their case. Then, the jury decides whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s damages. If either party does not like the result, they may file an appeal.
What Should I Do After an Accident or Injury in New York?
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You need to prove that the defendant caused your injuries. Medical records are vital evidence in a personal injury case.
You should seek legal advice about an accident claim as soon as you can. Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. Therefore, it does not cost you anything to learn about your legal options and discuss the steps you should take to protect your right to fair compensation after an accident or injury.