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Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Seth Harris

Last modified on December 13, 2022

Personal Injury LawsuitPersonal injury claims allow injured people to seek compensation for their losses in situations where someone else harmed them. In most cases, the claimant and the insurance company can come to an agreement about the amount of money the injured party deserves to receive. However, if the insurance company denies or undervalues your claim, a personal injury lawsuit may be the only way to recover the compensation you deserve. In this post, we go over the steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit.

How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If negotiations with the insurance company have failed to achieve the desired result, an experienced New York City personal injury attorney can handle everything you need for your case. To help you understand how the process works, we’ve outlined the steps in a lawsuit for you here.

Step One – Filing a Complaint

Your lawsuit will begin when your attorney files a series of documents with the court on your behalf. These papers will include a complaint, which is a document that formally identifies the factual and legal bases for the lawsuit. Filing the complaint will require you to identify the specific instance of negligence that resulted in your injuries. You will also need to outline what kind of financial compensation you are seeking.

Filing the complaint will involve paying a fee. The amount you will need to pay will depend on the type of lawsuit and the jurisdiction where you are filing.

Step Two – Service of Process

The second step is to serve the defendant with the complaint and the legal summons. When the defendant or their lawyer receives a copy of the documents, the “service of process” is complete. Depending on the jurisdiction, this step must occur within 30 to 120 days of filing with the court. Extenuating circumstances may persuade a court to grant a time exception.

Step Three – Defendant’s Response

Once you have served the defendant, they will have 20 or 30 days to respond to your petition. At this point, they can either:

  • File an answer that admits or denies each allegation in your petition, or
  • File a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. If the court grants this motion, it may throw out the case in whole or in part.

Step Four – Discovery

If your lawsuit proceeds, the next step is discovery. This phase of the process gives both parties’ lawyers an opportunity to gather more information about:

  • The facts and circumstances of the accident
  • The nature and extent of your injuries
  • Other aspects of your claim

This phase consists of the parties asking each other for documents and information, and depositions may be taken. The discovery phase is crucial because it can reveal previously unknown facts to either side. These facts may include video evidence, witness information, and background information about the defendant.

Step Five – Mediation

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This process allows you and your lawyer to communicate directly with the other side in a neutral setting. The mediator, usually a retired judge or neutral attorney, can help you and the defendant reach a common ground where you can agree upon a mutually favorable outcome.

Mediation is mandatory in most civil cases in New York. A successful mediation process can save a great deal of time and money.

Step Six – The Trial

Unsuccessful mediation generally means that a courtroom trial is the only remaining option for you to recover the compensation you deserve. During the trial, your lawyer will argue your claim directly before a judge and possibly a jury. The case will end when the judge or jury issues a final ruling on how much compensation the defendant must pay you.

Step Seven – Filing an Appeal

Steps in a Personal Injury LawsuitIf you find the ruling or verdict unsatisfactory, you may have an opportunity to appeal. In some cases, an appeal can increase the compensation you receive. However, it might take years before the process is complete.

Contact an Experienced NYC Personal Injury Lawyer

Suffering an injury in an accident is an overwhelming experience. Recovery can take weeks, months, or even years, resulting in ever-increasing medical expenses. Furthermore, you may be unable to earn money from work while you recover, making your financial circumstances as painful as your physical ones. Don’t add to your stress. If you were injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, consult a lawyer for advice on how to recover compensation. 

Some people convince themselves that they can serve as their own counsel in a personal injury lawsuit. Doing so tends to be a mistake. Filing a lawsuit involves numerous deadlines, confusing procedural complexities, and intense pressure from high-powered defense attorneys working for the insurance companies.

The experienced personal injury attorneys at [firm-name] will handle every aspect of your lawsuit. Let us take care of the legal complexities so you can focus on your recovery. We have a reputation for treating our clients well and getting results. We have recovered over $500 million in compensation for our clients. Plus we never charge any fees upfront. We work on contingency, so we don’t get paid until you receive your settlement or award.

Call us today at 800-PAIN-LAW or contact us online for a free consultation.

Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

What Our Clients Say About Us

Angelo Del GuercioAngelo Del Guercio
20:03 11 May 24
Horrible people. I lost complete confidence in this firm. Attorneys dragged their feet for 4 years and my mom died before a settlement could be reached. I advised them several times that my mom was sick to put fire under their feet but the effort was to no avail.
david Santiagodavid Santiago
18:05 21 Mar 24
Maria RoqueMaria Roque
20:49 15 Mar 24
Excellent person, very Professional, they assist you in any language, your call is always answered. I recommend you for any case of support you have, your refund is satisfactory. and fast
14:09 02 Mar 24
I am completely satisfied, and recommend Harris Keenan & Goldfarb as Attorneys to represent anyone. Their care for me physically, and overall helped me stay strong in spite of my injuries. Always available to answer questions, and inform.They got me Justice, and achieved a substantial outcome for my case.I am very impressed, and thankful for their outstanding performance on my behalf.I am very pleased, and significantly satisfied with their representation.‐-Sherylon Wilkins
Robert LennonRobert Lennon
15:26 21 Feb 24
Patient and diligence is how I describe the effort of HKG the work was thorough, honest and fair, I have no complaints. Special thanks to attorney Blake and his paralegal Thierry.
Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
17:52 08 Jan 24
I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
16:02 08 Jan 24
My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions that prospective clients have about personal injury claims include:

  • Do I need an attorney?

    When you have suffered an injury, it can be difficult to know what to do next. If the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. However, filing a personal injury claim can be a complex and time-consuming process. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal system and fight for the maximum possible compensation.

  • How do I know I have a case?

  • When should I contact an attorney?

  • How do I determine which one to choose?

  • Once I hire an attorney, what should I expect?

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