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Lawsuit

May 16, 2024 Brian Beltz

Time Frame:

It typically takes 18-24 months from the day the lawsuit is filed to get all the way to trial. The matter can settle anytime in between (obviously, that depends on what they are offering and what you are willing to settle for). Sometimes the trial is continued to a later date if there are too many cases are on the judge’s docket. The attorney fee percentage increases to 40% once a lawsuit is filed.

Procedure:

  1. Filing the Lawsuit: We will draft a Complaint, Summons, Interrogatories (written questions to the Defendant), Request to Produce (demanding the Defendant turns over documents related to the claim), and Request for Admissions. Those documents will be filed with the Court, and we will have a process server serve the Defendant. The Defendant will have twenty-one (21) days to respond to the Complaint from the date we served them and forty-five (45) days to respond to our initial discovery requests.
  1. Responding to Discovery: The Defendant will serve their responses to our Complaint and discovery requests. They will also file their own discovery requests directed at you. Their discovery requests will include interrogatories (written questions) regarding your prior home addresses, spouses, prior injuries, felonies, current injuries, future medical treatment, lost wages, etc. We will have to comply with most of their requests (even if we feel it is unrelated to the accident) or the Court will dismiss your case. Defendant will also send a Request to Produce demanding documents related to your claim. Our firm will help fill out as much information as we can, however, we will depend on you for the information we do not have access to. You will need to be in contact with us while we gather these documents and answer the Interrogatories.
  1. Depositions: The defense attorney will set and take your deposition and we will take the Defendant’s deposition (or their representative if it’s a corporate defendant). A deposition is a chance for the other side to learn about you, your injuries, and how they have affected your life. It is their chance to assess your credibility and figure out if you make a good witness. Third-party witnesses are also deposed.
  1. Compulsory Medical Examination: The insurance company will have you see one of their doctors for a medical examination. That doctor will review your records and conduct an in-person examination of your injuries. These doctors are paid by the insurance company to suggest that you are not as hurt as you are claiming, relate your current injuries to injuries that pre-dated the accident, and eventually testify on behalf of the Defendant at trial to try to mitigate the amount of damages they owe you.
  1. Mediation: Both sides will get together, either in person or via zoom, with a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who listens to both sides and tries to facilitate a settlement. A mediator will tell you that their job is to get you take to less than you wanted and to make the insurance company pay more than they intended to. This is typically the last chance to settle a case before trial. If the case can’t be settled at mediation, it is likely going to trial.
  1. Hiring Experts: Hiring experts can be done before mediation or after mediation, depending on our strategy. For the liability portion of the trial, expert engineers are sometimes required to recreate the accident based on physical evidence and explain the delta vector forces of the collision. Additionally, we will hire experts to calculate your damages. Economists and vocational experts for lost wages and loss of earning capacity claims and life care planners for future treatment.
  1. Pre-Trial Motions: Before trial, both attorneys will file pre-trial motions, and the court will determine which experts are allowed to testify and the scope of their testimony, what evidence will or will not be admitted, the instructions eventually given to the jury, the questions on the verdict form, and any other issues either side raises.
  1. Trial: Both attorneys will put on their case and six random jurors will decide how much the case is worth. Any previous settlement offers are null and void and cannot be used as evidence in trial.
  1. Post-Trial Motions: Judgement is entered, any post-trial motions for attorney’s fees and costs and/or appeals will be heard.