If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, you are probably curious about how the whole process works from start to finish. While exact procedures may vary depending on where you have filed your suit, all personal injury cases generally follow a similar process and this information is intended to provide a general overview of what happens once the lawsuit has been filed.
Once your attorney has filed suit with the court, the defendants will be served with papers notifying them of such. Typically, they must be delivered to the defendant within 30 to 60 days from when the court received the case. Generally, this is done within a month’s time. The defendants typically have 30 days to file their response- where they provide a variety of information , namely whether they confirm or deny the allegations set forth in the complaint; there is a 15-day grace period for filing an answer, which means they technically have 45 days to respond if needed.
Within 60 days of the suit being filed, each party will answer written questionnaires called interrogatories with the assistance of their attorneys; they are usually required to be completed within 35 days.
Depositions are usually taken within six months of filing—this form of oral testimony is less formal than testifying in court; you will be asked questions by the defendant’s attorney with a court reporter present. Your attorney help you prepare in advance for questions you are likely to be asked; they will also be with you at the deposition counseling you and advising when you should and should not answer questions. Witnesses and experts are also deposed .
This phase will also involve the gathering of evidence, talking to witnesses, experts and anyone else involved in the case, gathering documents and information from the opposing counsel. At some point, each side will have to reveal to the other all the information they have gathered for the case.
Either during the discovery phase or after, the defendant can file motions—actions that they wish the court to take regarding the case. Depending on what came to light during discovery, they may ask for certain claims or even the whole case to be dismissed. The plaintiff typically has 28 days to respond . A hearing may be held.
Mediation or Trial
Mediation is a non-binding form of dispute resolution that is employed in hopes of negotiating and reaching a settlement without going to trial. The parties can decide to enter mediation at any time during the proceedings. It involves a neutral third party, such as a retired judge or other professional skilled in mediation, both parties and their attorneys. If negotiations are successful, documentation is drawn up outlining the terms of the negotiation and the plaintiff typically receives his money within a month. If meditation is not successful, the case will go to trial, which can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the nature of the case.
Guest Author : Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has covered a range of legal topics; follow the link to learn more about personal injury and malpractice from experienced malpractice attorneys based out of Chicago.