When you’ve been involved in an accident and have sustained injuries, you may be considering filing a personal injury claim against the others involved in the incident. However, you may be wondering what steps are involved in filing a personal injury case, and how long it will take for your case to go to court. This blog post will outline some of the steps that are necessary to take before your personal injury case can be heard in front of a judge, and serves as a basic outline for a lawsuit. This blog is also the start of a series that will examine a personal injury case from the date of the accident through trial and final disposition.
If you or a loved one has been injured, let the experienced Arkansas personal injury lawyers at the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak help you through this difficult time. We believe that negligent parties should be held accountable for their actions, and are experienced in handling all types of personal injury cases. For nearly 20 years, our skilled personal injury attorneys have been representing clients in matters including but not limited to:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- ATV Accidents
- Drunk Driving Accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Plane Crashes
- Fires and Explosions
- Railroad Crossing Accidents
To speak with an experienced Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.
The Process of Filing a Lawsuit in Arkansas
Initial Pleadings – After an injury, you may want to file a lawsuit against the other person or people involved, however, to do this you will need to file pleadings in court to serve as the basis of the lawsuit. It is always a good idea to work with an experienced personal injury attorney before you even get to this stage. While you may elect to file a complaint on your own behalf, you may be unfamiliar or wholly unaware of what the requirements for filing a pleading are. In addition, by working with an attorney from the inception of your suit, they will be able to gather relevant facts and evidence that can be used in your lawsuit.
Petition or Complaint – A personal injury lawsuit is officially started in the court system by filing a petition or complaint against an opposing party or parties. In this document, the person filing the complaint, or the plaintiff, will allege certain facts as they pertain to the injury caused by another, known as the defendant, or defendants. Arkansas is a fact-pleading state, thus under Arkansas’s pleading standard, the facts must support conclusions of law. An Arkansas court, therefore, must “look to the underlying facts supporting an alleged cause of action to determine whether the matter has been sufficiently pled.” It is important that most if not all of the central facts are included in this initial document. While it is possible for a plaintiff to amend their complaint, if there aren’t sufficient facts in the pleading your case may be dismissed. In addition, the petition will contain the redress that the plaintiff is seeking, or in other words what damages the plaintiff is seeking.
Summons – Once the plaintiff has gathered all the facts they need for their case and file their petition in court, the court will then issue a document known as a summons. A summons is served upon or delivered to, the defendant or defendants by an officer of the court which is usually a Deputy Sheriff or an authorized process server. The summons puts the defendant or defendants on notice that there is a lawsuit against them and will include the complaint from the plaintiff. There are very specific rules as to who can deliver a summons and who the summons can be delivered upon for the summons to be deemed effective. It is important that the summons is properly delivered, because if it is not properly served upon the defendant, this may be a basis for a case being dismissed.
Answer or Motion – After the complaint has been filed in court and has been served on the defendant or defendants, the next step will in a personal injury lawsuit or another civil lawsuit will be the defendant’s answer or motion. An answer will respond to the allegations set forth in the complaint, and a motion will generally ask the court to do something, normally dismiss the case. Under Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure rule 12(a)(1), a defendant who has been served with a complaint has thirty days (30) after the complaint has been served to file an answer. While there are time extensions for certain people, such as those who are out of state, and those who are incarcerated, under normal conditions an answer must be filed within thirty days. In the answer or motion, the defendant will be required to set out “in ordinary and concise language his defenses to each claim asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies” as per Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b). In addition, in a response must contain all of the defenses that a defendant has against the plaintiff such as accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, comparative fault, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, exclusiveness of remedy under workmen’s compensation law, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, set-off, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.
Amended Complaints – Personal injury lawsuits tend to be very heavily centered around the facts. This can create a potential problem for personal injury victims because as time goes on and more investigation is completed there may be additional facts and events that demonstrate the defendant committed an act. However, the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure allow for a plaintiff to amend complaints to conform to evidence or correct a party name, or if new information is discovered a plaintiff may file a supplemental pleading.
Let an Arkansas Personal Injury Attorney Fight for You
Filing a complaint is not an easy task and the if you do not conform to the intricate rules to filing a case, then you may have your case dismissed and may further be barred from filing your case again. However, when you have been injured and have suffered damages, you do not want to have this happen to you. At the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak, our attorneys have been representing injured people in Arkansas for over twenty years. We stand up for Arkansans who have suffered a catastrophic injury or wrongful death. To schedule your free and confidential consultation call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.