Once it has been decided to file a lawsuit, we will prepare a summons and complaint. A summons and complaint basically states that you were involved in an accident due to the negligence of another. Once the summons and complaint is filed and served, we then wait for the defendant and their attorney to answer.
After they have been served with the complaint, they have 30 days to answer. There are many situations where an extension of time to answer will be granted, such as being unable to locate the defendant.
Once the complaint is answered, we begin the discovery portion of your lawsuit. During discovery, we share with the other attorneys your information and they share with us their client’s information. This process can take some time because often the other party requests information they are not entitled to or they drag their feet getting us their information and we are required to go before the Judge to fight on your behalf. This can happen a few times throughout the process.
During the discovery process, you may be asked to attend an independent medical examination (“IME”) An IME is when the other side’s attorney requests you see a doctor of their choice. They are entitled to this examination and you should be cooperative and courteous during the examination. It is recommended that your answers be kept short and to the point. Many times people feel the need to go into detail and elaborate about their situation. We do not recommend this. Just answer the doctor’s questions honestly and simply. If you are uncomfortable with the thought of this examination and do not want to go alone, a nurse can accompany you to the examination. Please note: if an independent medical examination is requested, you must attend.
Another part of the discovery process is the deposition. A deposition is when evidence is given under oath and recorded for use in court at a later date. You will be asked questions by each attorney relating to the accident and your injuries. Likewise, the other parties involved in the lawsuit will have to answer questions under oath.
The judge will set a trial date once the court is advised that all depositions are completed and that we have received the results of the independent medical examination.
Most trials are jury trials. All information is presented to a jury who will make a decision as far as the outcome of the case. This may include the testimony of doctors, experts, plaintiffs and defendants. A trial may last from one day to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of issues.
A jury’s decision is final. Although, there are a few situations that arise during trial where a jury’s decision is appealed.
Often times cases are resolved by the attorneys before trial. If the attorneys cannot resolve the case, they may offer the client to resolve it by arbitration or mediation. Arbitration is when there is a set high and low value before even walking in the door. A panel of arbitrators will hear your case and will get back to you at a later date with their decision.