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Steps in a  Car Accident Injury Case in Georgia

Many people are confused about how the legal process works in a civil case in Georgia so we will discuss that here.

Step 1: The Complaint

The Complaint lays out what the injured party is complaining about. It is a formal legal document that gets filed with the Court and must be handed to the defendant or their legal agent by an authorized process server or a sheriff or marshall. Once the paper is handed to the defendant, then certain legal timers start.

The Complaint must state:

  1. Who is bringing the case
  2. Why the particular court is the right one to hear the case. This is called venue. Venue against Georgia citizens or corporations is usually the County in which they live.
  3. What the legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff was.
  4. How the defendant breached that duty.
  5. How that breach caused a harm (legal damages).
  6. What the damages were including a tally of the medical bills.

Step 2: The Answer: The defendant has 30 days within which to file an Answer to the Complaint. That Answer is literally an answer to each of the complaints in the Complaint. The defendant is supposed to raise any known defenses.

Step 3: Discovery: Discovery starts in the State Courts of Georgia with the service of the Complaint and runs automatically for a period of 6 months. During this time, the case will not get called for trial. During this period, the parties use four tools to “discovery” facts and arguments about each other.

  1. Interogatories. The parties can send written questions to each other to get to the bottom of the claims
  2. Requests for Documents. Self explanatory
  3. Requests for Admissions: Either side can request that the other make admissions about the merits of their cases.
  4. Depositions. This is the most imporant tool. You can ask in person, under oath questions of any witness or party.

Step 4: Motions for Summary Judgment

Once discovery is closed, the defense will typically file a Motion for Summary Judgment to get the case thrown out. If the case survives this challenge, often times an offer to settle will be made.

Step 5: Trial

Typically a year and a half after filing is the soonest a premises liability case can expect to actually reach a jury