Steps of an Accident Legal Claim Lawsuit (Part A)

car accident lawsuit filedThere are occasions in which you may need to file a West Virginia personal injury lawsuit. One of the most common is in the event of suffering a serious injury in a car or truck accident.

When is it necessary to file an accident lawsuit?


A car accident case may become necessary when your personal injury damages are significant, and the responsible party or insurance companies refuse to settle for a fair amount.  The next step after failed settlement negotiations is to file a lawsuit.  

Filing your car accident lawsuit, or claim, must follow very specific rules and procedures set forth by the state of West Virginia. The order and type of pleadings (legal documents) to be filed by your lawyer are as follows:
 

  • Summons and Complaint;
  • Answer;
  • Discovery;
  • Counterclaim (if applicable);
  • Reply to counterclaim;
  • Cross-claims (if applicable);
  • Answer to cross-claims;
  • Third-party  complaint (if applicable); and
  • Answer to third-party complaint.


Understanding the Stages of a West Virginia Personal Injury Claim

The summons and complaint are two separate pleadings which must be filed together in civil court. The complaint is at the center of your car accident claim in West Virginia because it tells the defendant that you are suing them for a liability, and why you find them responsible for your injuries.

An important section of your West Virginia personal injury complaint is the demand for judgment, also called a "prayer for relief." In this section your complaint will list what you want the court to require of the defendant, such as to pay compensation for damages.

Your West Virginia car accident damages will need to be itemized and may include: 

  • medical bills;
  • lost wages;
  • property damage;
  • loss of future earnings; and
  • any other damages that are specific to your car accident claim in West Virginia.

The summons is served upon the defendant with the complaint. In most accident cases, the defendent is the insurance policy holder AND the insurance company.  Its purpose is to notify the defendant that you are suing them, that the court will have jurisdiction over the matter, and that they have a limited time-frame in which to respond, or "answer."

The summons may also describe the legal consequences if the defendant fails to answer in a timely manner. The court may find the defendant "in default," and may rule on the matter without his or her input and defenses.

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