If your personal injury case continues to a lawsuit, things become a bit more complicated. There are several potential phases that you may work through during the lawsuit: complaint and answer, discovery, mediation, trial, and appeal.
- Pleadings Phase Every lawsuit begins with the filing of a “Complaint” which is a document that generally describes the crash or incident. This document also describes the crash or incident, states how you have been damaged, and makes a request to recover an amount to compensate you for your damages. Each defendant must file an “Answer” to your complaint. This is a document in which they admit or deny, section by section, allegations and as well as list certain affirmative defenses they (the Defendant) may have. Additional motions or pleadings may occur during this time. Your attorney should keep you abreast of these developments.
- Discovery Phase This is the phase of litigation where both sides work to exchange and uncover facts and information regarding the case. Methods of discovery include: Interrogatories – written questions answered by the parties Requests for Production – written requests to provide certain documents or other items Depositions – Interviews conducted by the attorneys of the parties to the lawsuit or other witnesses under oath and transcribed by a court reporter. There are other methods of discovery that can be utilized in personal injury cases as well, but the listed three are the most common discovery methods used.
- Mediation Phase Once the parties believe they have enough information to attempt to settle a case, the attorneys will typically schedule a mediation to take place. A Mediation is where both sides of a lawsuit meet in the same location and a trained mediator, who is a neutral attorney not involved in the case, works with both sides to attempt to come to an agreed amount that both sides agree will settle the case. The vast majority of cases are resolved at mediation and short of trial. However, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on a settlement the only way to resolve the case is through a jury trial.
- Trial Phase In the Trial Phase, the case is presented to a jury. The Plaintiff will present their case with witnesses and other evidence first. The Defendant will present their cases with witnesses and other evidence second. Both sides receive the opportunity to argue their case to the jury and the jury ultimately decides who is at fault and how much the case is worth if the Plaintiff is to recover an amount.
- Appeal Phase While very few cases make it to trial (and fewer still are appealed), after a trial, the losing side may wish to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals to argue that there was a problem with the trial and to attempt to reverse the decision of the trial court. The litigation process can take a long time. While each case is different, the length of a lawsuit can range from one to several years depending on the complexities of the litigation, the court’s trial schedule, and many other factors. Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.