Steps in the process of a personal injury lawsuit
If a lawsuit becomes necessary, your attorney will explain in detail what you will have to do. Usually the process takes the following steps:
After final investigation and preparation, your lawyer will file a claim in court by preparing what is known as a Summons and Complaint. This is usually done in the lawyer’s office without your involvement.
The Summons and Complaint are served upon the person, persons or company who caused your injuries, and the responsible party is referred to as the defendant. You will be called the plaintiff.
After the defendant is served with the complaint, the insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend the lawsuit and that lawyer will file what is known as an Answer to the Complaint. The Answer usually denies responsibility for the injuries, denies the extent of your injuries, and may possibly seek to bring in other parties who might have been involved in the incident, which caused your injuries.
A process is started called discovery in which both sides seek information from each other. You will be involved in this process. The process includes some or all of the following:
Questions, called “interrogatories, ” which require written answers.
Oral testimony from you and other parties called “depositions.”
Such testimony takes place in front of the lawyers with a court reporter who takes down the questions and answers in order to prepare a transcript.
“Requests for production of documents” in which the lawyers ask for medical reports, witness statements, medical bills and other documents relating to the case. In most cases, your lawyer will have to send such documents to the other lawyer even if they have already been supplied to the insurance company.
“Requests for admissions” which is a process that requires the parties to narrow the issues by admitting certain facts that are not in dispute.
Pretrial procedures such as motions in court and other tactics that process the case to trial.
Preparation for trial including possible video depositions of your doctors, meeting with witnesses, writing briefs and appearances of your attorney before the trial judge.
The trial finally, if your case does not settle before the trial date.
It is possible that your case will settle before trial. Many cases settle during the lawsuit process while a small minority of cases having to proceed all the way through trial. However, it is impossible to predict when or if any particular case will settle.