There are seven things you need to expect when suit is filed in your case.
1. A petition is filed with the Court and service is issued to the Sheriff. Once the Sheriff serves the Defendant(s), they have 30 days to respond or they are in default. This means that we can go to court and get a judgment against them. If formal discovery is served against the defendant with the petition, then 45 days are given to respond to the petition and discovery.
2. Most of the time, the defendant will turn over the Summons and Petition to their insurance company. The insurance company files an answer, and we normally respond by sending out discovery.
3. Discovery is a process where the Plaintiff(s) and Defendant(s) send documents to each other containing questions about the incident, injuries, past injuries, insurance policy information, safety procedure of the company, etc. Each party may be requested to produce documents such as insurance policies, medical records, medical bills, tax returns (if you are claiming lost wages), etc. This process can take up to three months or more to complete depending on the cooperation of both sides, sometimes longer for more complex cases.
4. The next step is depositions: Depositions are where you actually appear in my office (or another law firm) to be asked questions under oath regarding the incident, injuries, lost wages, recovery time from injuries and activities that are stopped or limited by your injuries, etc. This same process is repeated for the defendant, eyewitnesses, experts, treating medical providers and any other parties.
5. After the discovery and depositions are finished, we may proceed to court for trial. Prior to that, one side may also request a mediation to attempt settlement negotiations prior to trial.
6. Please note, if you are still receiving medical treatment when we file suit, this will slow the process down. You need to be at maximum medical improvement (MMI) before we can attempt to settle your claim. The exception is if your treatment will be ongoing/lifelong. If that is the case, future medical care can be assessed and quantified by a qualified physician.
7. It’s important to remember that litigation cases take time and patience. Do not expect your case to settle within six months of your case beginning. It normally takes six months or more to complete discovery and depositions. Many courts will not set a trial date or order mediation until these items are completed.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information so that you are better informed about your case as it processes through the system. You may contact my office at anytime to get an update on your case.