Sometimes it is necessary to file suit to recover on a claim for an injury. This is a quick look at what happens after you file suit, so you know what to expect. First, it is important to remember that each lawsuit has its own lifespan. The duration of a suit depends on a number of factors, including: (1) whether it settles or goes through trial; (2) whether it is appealed following trial (by either side); (3) whether it is filed in state or federal court (federal court tends to operate on a more expedited timeframe); (4) the judge assigned to the case; and (5) the complexity of the case. Despite these variables, a lawsuit follows a set process.
Once suit is filed, the parties begin the discovery process. This is the opportunity for both sides to “discover” the facts of the case, and begin developing the case for trial. Both sides will conduct discovery. While your attorney will be gathering information from the defendant(s), in the form of relevant documents, insurance coverage, and anything to assist in the understanding of what happened that caused your injury and whether the defendants were liable in any way. The defendants will be given the same opportunity to discovery what you know, and what your actions were relating to the incident where you were injured.
You will be expected to respond to interrogatories and document requests. While you will work with your attorney to do so, the responses need to be your own. It is also important to produce the documents you have that are asked for. It is never a good idea to lie or hide information. That is a quick way for your claims to fall apart. In addition to written discovery, you will also give a deposition. This is where the defendants will ask you questions about yourself and your injury, and anything else relevant. Your attorney will prepare you for what to expect and will be there with you. Remember this is sworn testimony, so always tell the truth.
This period prior to trial is also the time to get a full understanding of the various elements of the claim. All medical records will be obtained and reviewed, and medical providers may also be deposed. Additionally, there are times when one or both sides will need to obtain experts to help explain the complexities of the case (either the medical issues or the issues surrounding the incident).
This discovery period of the litigation can be a lengthy process, at times taking years. Also, during the discovery process, and before trial begins, one or both sides will engage in motion practice. This involves filing various motions to ask the court decide on various issues, from admissibility of evidence all the way to requests to dismiss the litigation. Motion practice can also take considerable time (and parties can also appeal the court’s decisions in the form of appellate writs to higher courts).
Prior to trial, most times, parties will attempt to settle a case. This eliminates the element of uncertainty that is present for both sides at trial. Settlement discussions can simply be back and forth communications which may or may not result in both sides coming to a mutually agreeable resolution. Oftentimes, parties will attempt to mediate the dispute. At mediation, both parties turn to a neutral third-party to help them try to resolve the case. Despite best intentions, however, not all settlement discussions result in a resolution of claims, and you will need to try the case to obtain a positive result. (Sometimes, cases will settle at or even after trial.)
There is a lot that happens between filing suit and going to trial (if you end up going to trial at all. It is important to understand that there is never a guarantee that you will ultimately recover for any claim, and if you are successful, the process may still take years.
If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, please contact Herman, Herman & Katz today to see if we can assist you by filling out our free, no obligation case review form located on this website or calling our toll-free number: 1-844-943-7626.