How To Proceed With a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Albuquerque, NM

Personal injury cases cover many accidents and injuries, including slip and fall accidents, automobile accidents, wrongful death, and medical malpractice. You can even sue a manufacturer for injuries caused by a defective product or file a personal injury lawsuit for a dog bite. 

The priority after an injury or accident is your health. Seek immediate medical treatment for injuries and document your damages. Then, call an Albuquerque personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. An attorney has the resources to take the next step in a civil lawsuit: the investigation.

An experienced personal injury attorney in Albuquerque, NM investigates the cause of your injury to determine how it occurred. The attorney identifies all responsible parties and gathers evidence proving fault. 

Injured victims have the burden of proof in a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit. You must prove the other party owed you a duty of care, breached the duty of care, and the breach caused your injuries and damages. 

After the investigation, a personal injury attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement. Settling injury claims through negotiations is the quickest and most cost-effective way to settle a personal injury claim. If a settlement is impossible, your attorney will discuss the steps in a civil lawsuit with you.

The Steps Involved in an Albuquerque Personal Injury Lawsuit

Each personal injury lawsuit is unique. The process could vary slightly, but generally will include these seven steps:

File a Personal Injury Complaint

All personal injury lawsuits begin with the filing of a complaint. 

The complaint describes the facts of the case alleged by the plaintiff (injured party). The complaint also sets forth the causes of action that create liability for the defendant (at-fault party). It also sets forth the relief requested by the plaintiff, such as compensation for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. 

After filing the complaint, it must be served on the defendants in the case. The summons served with the complaint explains the filing deadlines for responses.

Wait for Responsive Pleadings

Generally, a defendant has 20 days after being served to file an answer to the complaint or other responsive pleading. The deadline might be extended in some cases. 

The answer responds to the allegations in the complaint. It might include a counterclaim alleging causes of action against the plaintiff. The answer also contains the relief the defendant seeks, such as a dismissal of the lawsuit. 

Discovery 

The next step in a civil lawsuit is discovery. Discovery is the process parties use to request and receive information, documentation, and other evidence from the opposing parties. Examples of discovery tools include:

  • Subpoenas
  • Depositions
  • Request for admission
  • Interrogatories 
  • Request for production of documents

Parties must respond to discovery requests under oath. Suppose a party has a valid legal reason for not responding to discovery requests. In that case, they must file a motion with the court alleging their legal reasons, such as confidentiality or scope. The judge decides whether or not to compel a party to respond to discovery. 

Settlement Negotiations and Mediation 

Most parties to a lawsuit engage in mediation and/or private settlement negotiations at this stage. Discovery allows the parties to view the evidence the other side intends to produce at trial. 

Therefore, each party can determine the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case. Discovery can be a significant motivating factor in settlement discussions. 

Pre-Trial Motions 

When the parties do not agree to settle the lawsuit, the parties might file pre-trial motions. Pre-trial motions deal with matters of law that a judge needs to decide. Pre-trial motions in a personal injury case could include, but are not limited to:

  • Motion to Dismiss
  • Motion for Change of Venue
  • Motion to Suppress Evidence
  • Motion for Summary Judgment

The decisions in pre-trial motions can significantly impact a party’s strategy for trial. The case is over if a judge grants a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment. Either party can appeal the judge’s decision if they believe the judge made an error of law or other material mistake.

Trial 

The attorneys make opening statements at the beginning of a personal injury trial. These statements are not evidence. Instead, the attorneys outline the facts as they intend to prove.

The plaintiff presents their case first, followed by the defendant. Each party can present evidence, including testimony, documentary evidence, and physical evidence. 

The goal is to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they are presenting the facts of the case. A preponderance of the evidence means the jurors believe there is more than a 50% chance that the fact is true.

At the end of the case, attorneys make closing statements before the jurors begin deliberations. The jurors return a verdict for the plaintiff or the defendant. If the jurors return a verdict for the plaintiff, they also decide what amount to award the plaintiff for damages. 

Appeal

A party may appeal the decision in a New Mexico personal injury case, which could take significant time to resolve. Your Albuquerque personal injury lawyer will discuss the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit versus accepting a settlement offer and their legal opinion of your best option. However, choosing to file a lawsuit or settle the claim is always your decision. 

Contact an Experienced Albuquerque Personal Injury Lawyer for Help With Your Claim

If you were injured in an accident in Albuquerque, NM, and need legal help, contact our Albuquerque personal injury attorneys at Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.

Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers
400 Gold Avenue SW Suite 650
Albuquerque, NM 87102

(505) 594-3621

Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers
1221 E Osborn Rd. Suite 201
Phoenix, AZ 85014

(602) 595-5559

Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers
5151 E Broadway Blvd. Suite 1600
Tucson, AZ 85711
(520) 492-0926