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If navigating a civil lawsuit seems daunting, help is available

Slip-and-fall accidents can happen anywhere, and if you live in an apartment complex in New Jersey, your fate may be in the hands of the property owner. Negligent maintenance can result in potholes in the parking lot, loose railings and insufficient lighting in the stairwell, electrical hazards in your apartment, and more. You may face additional risks if you use public transportation to get to work every day, and falls with devastating consequences are also somewhat frequent at supermarkets.

Fortunately, you may find comfort knowing that the civil justice system is on your side, and it will allow you to seek recovery of financial and emotional damages if you suffer injuries as the result of another party's negligence. The thought of navigating a premises liability lawsuit may be daunting, but it is not something you need to face on your own because there are resources available to assist you.

Learn what to expect -- discovery

As soon as you file a personal injury lawsuit in a New Jersey civil court, the person who you believe caused your injuries will become the defendant, and you will be the plaintiff. The different lawyers -- your legal counsel, the defendant's lawyer and sometimes the attorney for the insurance company -- will start the process of discovery, which involves the following:

  • Interrogatories -- Written questions and answers
  • Depositions -- A verbal question and answer session under oath

Civil lawsuits are about recovery, not punishment

Civil lawsuits do not punish people for causing harm to others. Criminal courts hand down jail terms and stiff fines as punishment for unlawful activities. Personal injury lawsuits are actions to seek recovery of financial losses such as medical expenses and lost wages along with emotional losses like pain and suffering. Emotional damages could include depression, aches, scars, limits on activities, the possibility of a shortened life and more.

Do all civil lawsuits go to trial?

In many premises liability lawsuits, the two sides reach settlement agreements after the discovery process, and therefore never go to trial, although it could also happen during the trial. The legal counsel of the defendant or his or her insurance provider could offer you a certain amount of money. In return, they would expect you to drop the case against the person deemed responsible for your injuries. However, your lawyer will likely advise you not to accept any settlement offers without careful consideration.

What can a lawyer do for you?

Along with experienced support and guidance, an attorney can make a realistic assessment of the chances of a successful lawsuit -- based on the details of your claim. He or she can also help you determine the full extent of your damages, to allow proper evaluation of any offers made by the defendant or the insurance company. Your lawyer can also inform you of the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in New Jersey to prevent you from losing the opportunity to seek recovery.

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