As you know from reading my blog, and you should read my blog, most cases settle. However, not every case settles. What happens when your case settles? Here are the first 5 steps in MOST personal injury car accident cases. Not every case is the same and your case may have different steps. But here are 5 steps that should happen in this order:
1. FILE THE LAWSUIT
If your case cannot be settled, a lawsuit will be prepared. Included with the lawsuit, called a complaint, is a statement of damages where the attorney will list out the amount of your damages. The lawsuit is filed with the court.
2. SERVE THE LAWSUIT
After the lawsuit is filed, it must be served on the defendant. If the defendant is a person, it is handed to the person by a process server. If the defendant is a business, the lawsuit is usually served on an agent of the business. If your attorney cannot locate the defendant, the lawsuit is served by publication in a newspaper after the court approves this.
3. ASK/ANSWER WRITTEN QUESTIONS
After a lawsuit is served, the defendant will serve interrogatories on your attorney. Your attorney will also send interrogatories to the defendant's attorney. Once the defendant answers the lawsuit, they will send written questions to you to be answered. Each side usually has 30 days to answer these questions.
Each side is entitled to depose, or ask questions orally, the other side. This may not be done in every case, but the defendant usually deposes the Plaintiff. The questions are asked in front of a court reporter, under penalty of perjury. An attorney will be present with you for the deposition.
5. MEDICAL EXAMINATION
The defendant is entitled to have you examined by a doctor of their choice. The examination is conducted and a report is prepared. Usually, you will be accompanied by a witness for the examination.
These are the first five steps. Steps 1 and 2 are the very basic steps that are required in every case. A lawsuit must be filed and served. Steps 3 through 5 are called discovery. In a future post, I will write about the next 5 steps.