Your Role in an Injury Lawsuit
Your attorney should make you aware of what to expect if you need to file a lawsuit. While your attorney will do much of the work, you will need to assist in certain aspects as well.
Steps in an Injury Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit typically requires a number of steps. One of the first steps, following a thorough investigation, is filing a claim in court. Counsel often does not require your help in filing the initial documents, referred to as a Summons and Complaint. You are considered the “Plaintiff”.
These documents are filed against “Defendants”, the companies and/or people responsible for your injuries. Once a defendant receives the complaint, his insurance carrier retains counsel and files a response, also known as an “Answer”, to the documents. It is not uncommon for the Answer to deny everything and likely blame other parties for your injuries.
The Discovery and So, Forth
The next phase of the process is discovery. This is when all parties involved gather as much information as possible about the incident. Your attorney will need your assistance at this stage, including answering questions, which are called Interrogatories. This process also includes counsel taking recorded statements from everyone involved. These depositions are taken down with both parties’ counsel present. A court reporter records all questions and answers and then prepares a copy for all involved.
Counsel will ask for copies of medical bills and reports, witness statements and anything else related to the case. This likely will occur whether or not copies already were sent to the insurance company. In addition, both parties’ attorneys also may ask for those involved to admit to particular facts in the case. At this point, parties may file motions and begin prepping for court, including recording the testimony of your physicians, communicating with witnesses and making appearances before the judge. If the parties fail to reach an amicable settlement, the case will then proceed to trial.