HOW DOES A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT WORK?
In this video personal injury lawyer Jason Roth talks to you about a typical lawsuit arising out of a car wreck. Many times, people come and they ask me, “Well what does a lawsuit entail? I was in a car wreck. I suffered injuries and missed some work. How does a lawsuit work?”
A lawsuit begins by filing a Petition for Damages, which simply lays out facts of the incident that gave rise to the lawsuit as well as lays out what your injuries and damages are. After the lawsuit has been filed it has to be formally served on the defendant or defendant’s, whether it be an individual or a company. In response, the defendants file what is called an Answer to the Petition. That simply responds to the allegations that we’ve raised in the petition to initiate the lawsuit.
After the defendant has filed an answer and responded to the allegations, the next step typically is called written discovery. Written discovery generally consists of interrogatories which are written questions that each side sends to the opposing side to be answered under oath. It’s the first form of sworn testimony in the case. The questions are answered and then signed with a sworn statement stating that they are true and correct. Another form of written discovery is request for production of documents. In the request for production of documents, it is exactly what it says. You are simply requesting that your opponent produce for you documents and materials that may be relevant to the case. In a personal injury case, many times the defendant asks for all of a person’s medical records, medical bills, medical history, employment records, the employment history. The plaintiff in a case typically seeks documents from the defendant relative to their training, education experience, things like that relative to the facts in that particular lawsuit. Another form of written discovery is request for admissions. This is simply sending a request to the opposing party that they admit certain statements of fact. Once the request for admissions, if admitted, that is no longer in controversy.
After the parties have conducted written discovery, whether it be interrogatories, request for production of documents, or request for admissions, the next step is typically depositions. A deposition is where the parties sit in typically a conference room and there is a court reporter present. Sometimes the depositions are video-taped and an attorney has the opportunity to ask the party or witnesses questions under oath. A deposition is generally a question and answer format where you provide answers to specific questions that relate to the claims that are made in the lawsuit.
After depositions are taken, the parties have an opportunity to evaluate their position, the witnesses in the case, and many times the documents that have been exchanged. The next step is expert discovery. The expert’s in a case range from doctors, economists, lifecare planners, accident reconstructionists. Depending on what variables are in play in the lawsuit, there can be up to 5 or 10 expert depositions taken to determine what the opinions are of the experts. Mediation is where the parties sit down with a third party and attempt to resolve the case. At that point the plaintiff extends a demand and the defendant extends offers. The parties attempt to resolve the case on mutual agreeable terms. If the case is not able to be resolved, then the parties move to trial.