Timeline of a New Jersey Car Accident Lawsuit

Car Accidents,Personal Injury • March 28, 2024

After a car accident resulting in personal injuries, navigating the legal proceedings in New Jersey can be complicated and overwhelming. Understanding the general timeline and what steps to expect during a Jersey City car accident lawsuit greatly helps with preparation for what’s ahead. Here’s a breakdown:

Immediate Aftermath of The Accident

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident in New Jersey, there are some very important initial steps to take both for your own safety and legal protection. Consider doing the following:

Document the Scene

At the scene, make sure you document everything thoroughly – take photos and videos if you’re able to. This evidence should detail vehicle positions, road conditions, as well as visible injuries on yourself.

Contact 911

Additionally, call 911 as soon as possible. Law enforcement will arrive on scene and make sure any injured parties receive the help they need. They will also create an accident report which documents the basics of the accident, what the police officer thinks happened, witness information, and possibly a diagram of how they think the accident occurred.

This report provides an authoritative third-party perspective on the accident, which could be helpful with your claim.

Gather Witness Information

Take the time to gather contact information so your lawyer can speak with them and get another objective account of what happened.

Seek Medical Evaluation

Even if you feel fine, it’s important to get a professional evaluation, both for your health and future legal proceedings. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent without a medical examination.

Contact and Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

Once your initial steps have been taken at the accident scene, hiring a Jersey City personal injury lawyer becomes essential. Having experienced legal counsel ensures that you navigate the legal process effectively, giving you the best chance to recover the compensation you deserve.

Pre-Litigation Phase

During the pre-litigation phase of a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a car accident in New Jersey, critical groundwork is laid before any potential court proceedings take place:

Investigation and Evidence Gathering

One of the first things your lawyer will do is collect all available evidence to prepare your case, including collaborating with accident reconstruction specialists when necessary.

Filing an Insurance Claim

With solid evidence in hand, you or your lawyer will file a claim with the relevant insurance companies representing the involved parties.

Negotiations with Insurance Companies

During negotiations, your attorney will present an evidence-based case to insurance adjusters. The aim is to secure a settlement that covers all of your damages without the need to litigate.

If Negotiations Fail – File a Lawsuit

Out-of-court efforts aren’t always successful, in which case you and your lawyer may decide to file a lawsuit.

Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is the process through which parties exchange all evidence and information related to their claims. This involves several steps, such as lawyers drafting interrogatories and requests for productions of documents relevant to the case.

In addition to written questions, there may also be depositions, where lawyers will ask questions of witnesses and parties involved in person. This is done out of court but under oath, so anything said can be used in court.

Both sides have a chance to study the strengths and weaknesses of their adversary’s arguments based on evidence collected through these methods.

Pre-Trial Motions and Mediation

Before a trial begins, either party can file pre-trial motions with the goal of resolving certain legal questions. This could be a motion to dismiss, a motion to limit evidence, or a motion regarding discovery, for example.

Mediation offers a facilitated form of negotiation under the guidance of a neutral third-party known as a mediator. This process presents an opportunity for those involved to discuss the issues, explore potential resolutions, and ideally come to an agreement that’s satisfactory for both sides. If successful, mediation can help you settle your case without going through with the trial.

Trial Phase

The trial phase of a personal injury lawsuit is when your case is argued in detail before a judge and jury. Here’s what that generally looks like:

Jury Selection (Voir Dire)

Potential jurors are questioned to determine fairness and suitability for the case. The objectivity of the panel is key, and both sides have the opportunity to raise challenges in selecting an impartial jury.

Opening Statements

Once the jury is selected, attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant will outline their case to jurors, highlighting what they believe will be proven by evidence.

Presentation of Evidence

Following the opening statements, the plaintiff begins by presenting their case to establish liability and damages. This can involve providing medical records, highlighting expert testimony, and bringing forth witnesses who were at the scene when the accident occurred, for example.


During the trial, witnesses are subject to cross-examination by the opposing legal counsel after their initial testimony. This stage of questioning allows for the assessment of witness credibility and the challenging of testimony provided. It’s used to uncover inconsistencies, assess accuracy, or introduce doubt regarding a witness’s statements, essential for establishing the strength or weakness of each side’s arguments.

Closing Arguments

Once all the evidence has been presented, both the plaintiff and defendant’s legal teams summarize their case with closing arguments. These are intended to reinforce each party’s positions and sway jurors by detailing crucial elements of testimony or underlining problematic areas in the opposing side’s case.

Jury Instructions

After closing remarks, judges give jury members detailed directions on how they should go about determining a verdict based on specific legal standards relevant for that particular claim.

Jury Deliberation

Next, the jury will convene in private to deliberate on the case after receiving their instructions from the judge. Here they’ll review evidence, discuss testimony, and apply legal standards before reaching a conclusion related to both liability and damages.


When jurors have come to a decision, they return to the courtroom where their verdict is publicly read. Verdicts detail who they find legally responsible and outline any financial compensation granted to cover damages sustained by the plaintiff. If either side disagrees with this result and there are legal grounds, an appeal could be filed.

Navigating a personal injury trial from start to finish is demanding both emotionally and legally, requiring careful strategy and in-depth legal knowledge. If you’re involved in such proceedings following car accident injuries, partnering with skilled attorneys maximizes your chance of success. For help, contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a New Jersey car accident lawyer.