How a Personal Injury Lawsuit Works

filing personal injury claim

If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Before taking that action, it’s helpful to understand what this process is.

What Happens During a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A typical personal injury lawsuit follows this route:

Plaintiff is injured

After you are injured, you may file a claim with the defendant’s insurance company. If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement, you go to the next step.

Complaint is filed and served on defendant

The complaint is the document that initiates the personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. It includes a factual statement of allegations about what happened, including how you were wronged, why you are entitled to compensation, and why the court where you are filing your case is the appropriate court.

The defendant has the legal right to know when such legal action is taken against them. Therefore, you must have the defendant legally served with the complaint and summons.

Defendant hires an attorney

At this point, the defendant will typically hire an attorney to represent them. The defendant’s insurance company may pay for the defendant’s legal representation. The defendant may respond to the lawsuit by filing an answer in which they deny or admit each of the allegations in the complaint. Alternatively, they may file a motion to dismiss that asks the court to dismiss the complaint for some reason, such as because the complaint did not state facts that would allow them to recover compensation or because you filed the complaint beyond the statute of limitations.


Before a trial is carried out, the parties participate in various pre-trial procedures. The attorneys may file various motions, such as requests to include certain evidence at trial or to withhold certain evidence from being entered in the case. The parties also participate in the discovery process in which they request all relevant information that pertains to the case. The parties through their attorneys can also conduct depositions so that they can interview witnesses and record their testimony for later use.

After this process is completed, one or both of the parties may file a motion for summary judgment in which they claim that there are no undisputed issues that are material to the case. If these motions are denied, the parties proceed to trial.


Only about two percent of all civil cases make it to trial. The plaintiff may request a jury to hear the case. The attorneys are able to challenge jurors who would be biased from being selected.

Each attorney gives an opening statement about their client’s side of the case. The plaintiff presents evidence and witnesses. The defense attorney cross-examines witnesses. The defense attorney can also have their own witnesses and expert witnesses testify.

At the conclusion of the case, the parties give a closing argument to wrap up their case and give their final arguments to the jury.

Settlement negotiations

At any point before the verdict is read (or sometimes even after), you are free to reach a settlement and ask the court to dismiss your case.

How Michael Gopin Can Help You

If you were injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, an El Paso personal injury lawyer from the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC can help. Our firm has been in business since 1987. Our El Paso personal injury attorneys have more than 30 years of combined legal experience. We are very community-focused and will work diligently to protect your rights throughout the claims process. Contact us today to get started.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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