What to Expect From a DC Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury claims in the District of Columbia can be lengthy. Often taking a year and a half or longer, there are a variety of things to expect when pursuing a DC personal injury claim. If you have found yourself looking to file a claim on behalf of your personal injury case, it is essential that you contact an experienced DC injury attorney as soon as possible. The right lawyer can aid in creating a strong claim against the court, and help to ensure the most beneficial outcome for your particular case.

Length of Litigation

When considering the length of litigation, there are a few issues that need to be clarified. Litigation typically refers to the filing of a complaint, which begins the case and a trial, which then ends in a verdict. Typically, in the District of Columbia, an individual filing a personal injury claim can expect the process to last around 18-months. Many factors go into how long a trial takes or how long litigation will take. It is the plaintiff’s job to continually push the claim through the course of litigation and work as quickly and efficiently as possible toward the resolution of the claim in favor of the plaintiff.

Typically, the length of a case is simply a function of achieving all the necessary facts in order to investigate the claim and flesh out any issues, which can take considerable time. Courts are often very busy and have rigorous trial schedules.

Focus of the Litigator

An important issue that a qualified personal injury attorney will concentrate on is ensuring the necessary facts are presented to the jury to establish liability – meaning who is at fault. Another important issue entails ensuring that the requisite testimony in evidence, that concerns the damages or injuries sustained by the injured person, is presented. Further, the very crucial information concerning the cause of the injury must be presented to the court. This is often done through the presentation of expert testimony of a doctor.

Each case likely has a certain issue or a piece of evidence that can be dispositive to the outcome of the case. A qualified personal injury attorney will always know and recognize this issue. If evidence or testimony is presented in such a way that will influence the outcome of the decision, then he or she will take the necessary steps to note an objection or take other steps to preserve the record. Having an experienced attorney who knows what to expect when filing a personal injury claim is invaluable. Should the court or a jury rule in a way adverse to the injured person, and the attorney believes is contrary to law, then he or she has an opportunity to appeal that issue.

Type of Trial

Although they can be bench trials, personal injury cases have in some circumstances been proven to be more beneficial when heard by a jury. There can be certain factors in an injury case that play into having the case heard by a judge, but these are rare. That decision will be made on a case-by-case basis based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case.

Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations in personal injury is the statute or rule of law that establishes a deadline by which a case must be settled or a lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. There are different statutes of limitations for different kinds of cases. However, in personal injury cases, there is only one statute of limitations. The statute of limitations begins on the date of the occurrence in a typical case. This is standard and should be expected from all DC personal injury claims.

It should be noted that the statute of limitations differs for a minor. Since a minor is not legally capable of initiating a personal injury claim, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor obtains the age of majority.

Often times, it is easy for the attorney to calculate the applicable statute of limitations as it is a publicly published rule and is available to anyone.  However, the application of this law should be left up to a trained and qualified personal injury attorney. A person should retain the services of a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney to offer counsel regarding the applicable statute of limitations, when it begins, and how it may affect his or her claim.

Challenge of the Defense

The most important thing anyone involved in a personal injury claim should expect in the District of Columbia is that the defense will always challenge a case. Accordingly, even the most simple of motor vehicle collisions will result in contested jury trials with each party presenting testimony and/or medical testimony to refute the claims made by the injured person. Therefore, no one should assume that they are part of a simple “open and shut” case, as there is simply no such thing.