Things to know when thinking about filing a lawsuit

While most personal injury claims are settled without having to go into litigation, sometimes insurance companies will deny that their insured caused a client’s injury or deny that whatever their insured did was serious enough to cause an injury that a client sustained.  In situations like these, it might be in the best interests of the client to take their case to litigation. The decision to go to litigation is made by the client and their attorney.  The following are a few examples of questions that clients ask when the possibility of litigation comes up.

What does “litigation” mean and how does the process start?

According to freedictionary.com, litigation is defined as an action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest.  Litigation is initiated when a injured party files a document that is referred to as a complaint in court.  In a personal injury lawsuit, a complaint is basically a document that states that a party was injured by someone else and should be compensated for it.  The next step is that the complaint must be served on the party who caused the injury.  “Serve” means give proper notification to the party who caused the injury so that they can respond.  Once a complaint is served, the burden is on the opposing party to respond.

If my case goes to litigation will there definitely be a trial?

The case can still settle.  In fact, according to thelawdictionary.org, only four to five percent of personal injury cases actually end up going to trial.  The case can settle at anytime but once litigation begins, there is usually a good amount of time that passes before the case is settled.  The best way to get a case that is in litigation settled is to thoroughly prepare the case for trial.

How long does the process take?

This is the part that is most frustrating for clients.  It is almost impossible to determine how long the process will take.  The reason is that once a complaint is filed, served and the defendant has responded, the case enters the discovery phase.  According to freedictionary.com, discovery is a category of procedural devices employed by a party to a civil or criminal action, prior to trial, to require the adverse party to disclose information that is essential for the preparation of the requesting party’s case and that the other party alone knows or possessesBasically it means that attorneys from each side get to ask the other side a whole bunch of questions that must be answered.  Discovery starts out with the questions being in written form, and progresses to face to face questions between the attorney and the opposing parties and witnesses in what are called depositions.  It is important that discovery be thorough and complete before an attorney asks that a trial be set because a great way to see a case go downhill in trial is not to ask the right questions in discovery.

The attorneys at Rainwater, Holt and Sexton are ready and willing to discuss taking your case to litigation if it is in your best interest.  Call today for a free consultation.

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