Many people who file accident and injury cases in Philadelphia often ask about what to expect once their case is filed, how long it will take to resolve, and what will happen at trial. For those who have suffered injuries, a lawsuit can feel overwhelming, mostly because of the fear of the unknown. This article explains the initial steps to an accident or injury lawsuit in Philadelphia.
The first question about filing a lawsuit is where the case should be filed. Under Pennsylvania law, certain conditions must be met before filing a case in a particular county. In order to file a case in Philadelphia County, the accident must have occurred in Philadelphia or a defendant must reside or otherwise do business in Philadelphia.
For example, a motorcycle accident which occurs in Montgomery County will generally be filed in Montgomery County unless a defendant resides or does business in Philadelphia. Likewise, a slip and fall case which occurs in Delaware County will generally be brought in Delaware county, unless the defendant business maintains an office in Philadelphia.
Related injury and accident legal article: Investigating Injury Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
Below is a description of the first steps to filing an accident or injury lawsuit in Philadelphia:
1. Pre-suit Investigation. Before the lawsuit is filed, there is a fair amount of investigation which must be done. Accident or police reports must be ordered and reviewed, and any factual discrepancies must be resolved. Police reports often contain inaccuracies and those details must be resolved prior to filing suit. In addition to the police report, medical records must also be ordered and reviewed.
2. Service of the Complaint. A Complaint is a formal document which starts the lawsuit. It details who the parties are, how the accident occurred, and what the damages are. Pennsylvania court procedure requires that a copy of Complaint be served on the defendant by the local sheriff, except in Philadelphia, where any adult can serve the Complaint. After service, the defendant or the defendant’s attorney will enter an appearance and file a formal Answer to the Complaint. The Answer must admit or deny each allegation pled in the Complaint.
3. Case Management Conference. Within a few months of filing of the Complaint, the parties will attend a Case Management Conference, an informal conference held before special court administrators, not judges. The parties will discuss the case, theories of liability, damages, etc. More importantly, the case will be assigned to a designated track, expedited, standard or complex. The assigned track determines how long the parties have to conduct discovery before the case is assigned to trial. Read more about the discovery phase in a Philadelphia accident and injury lawsuit.
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Schwartz & Blackman handles accident cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:
- PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
- NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities
*This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is important to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.