Preparation of Initial Documents:
After an Alabama personal injury lawyer identifies his/her theories of liability and defendants he/she must then decide where is the appropriate and/or best place possible to file the lawsuit. The place where the lawsuit is filed is known as the “venue.” In a personal injury situation or a tort claim, often the proper venue to file the lawsuit is the county in which the accident occurred. For example, a Birmingham car accident that involved two Alabama residents would typically have to be file in Birmingham or in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. However, if the dispute involves a breach of contract, then the proper venue for a breach of contract claim in Alabama is usually the County where the contract was entered into.
Once the personal injury attorney has determined what is the proper venue to file his/her lawsuit then the next step is to draft the complaint. The complaint is the initial document that is filed with the court and served upon the defendant(s), which sets out the facts of the case and the Plaintiff’s legal claims against the defendant(s) and the damages and/or remedy the Plaintiff is seeking. For example, in the case of an Alabama car wreck, the complaint would likely set forth the facts of the car accident, that the defendant driver was negligent in striking the Plaintiff’s vehicle and set forth what injuries the Plaintiff suffered and that the Plaintiff was asking the jury to return a verdict in his/her favor. Typically, once the complaint is filed, the Defendant would have 30 days under Alabama law in which to file their Answer to the complaint. Often the complaint and answer are referred to as initial pleadings.
After the complaint and answer have been filed by both parties, the next step in the personal injury process is usually the filing of discovery (interrogatories and request for production). Interrogatories are essentially questions that are drafted by one party (Plaintiff or Defendant) to discover information from the other party. These questions are geared toward learning information about the person and the events surrounding the accident itself. Request for production are similar to interrogatories in that they are request by one party to another asking the other party to produce documents that may be relevant to the issues in the lawsuit. Under Alabama law, if the Plaintiff serves discovery with the complaint then the Defendant has 45 days in which to answer the discovery; however, discovery not served with the complaint has to be answered in 30 days.