A case begins with an incident such as an auto accident. Many times persons involved receive treatment on the scene and may be taken to the hospital. Other times a person may not realize they are injured until the adrenaline wears off, or a few days later when the soreness won’t go away on its own.
When an injured person contacts us after a collision, the first thing we do is make sure they get the medical treatment they need. We know a network of doctors and care providers and we can help arrange for treatment. While our clients are receiving treatment, we are hard at work investigating and building their case. A thorough investigation typically involves obtaining law enforcement records, tracking down and interviewing witnesses, performing background investigations on opposing parties, visiting where the incident occurred (for example, the intersection in car accident case or a home or business in a deck collapse case), and obtaining other useful documentation or evidence that could be important later in the case.
Once the investigation is complete and the client’s medical treatment is far enough along to understand the legal issues and potential long-lasting impacts, the case can be assessed for value. This is when pre-suit negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company usually begin. If settlement negotiations stall or appear unlikely to result in a good settlement for the client, the case goes into litigation.
Litigation begins with the filing of a civil action with the court having jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction can be a complex legal issue requiring careful legal analysis to determine the correct court. Once the initial pleadings are done, the case then goes into discovery. During the written discovery phase, the parties exchange information and documentation about their legal claims or defenses. Depositions of fact and expert witnesses usually come next. Cases are usually mediated next.
Though a vast majority of cases settle before or at mediation, sometimes the sides see a case so differently that it does not settle. After an impasse at mediation, the parties may need to file pre-trial motions to refine the issues for trial or to resolve any evidentiary issues that may develop at trial. The lawyers usually do a great deal of work in advance of trial to make sure the court’s time at trial is used efficiently. Lawyers are encouraged (if not required) by the court to address as many administrative or other issues impacting the trial as possible.
Depending on the complexity of the case, trials can last a few days, a few weeks, and sometimes a few months. The jury’s involvement in a trial will end when a verdict is reached or if the jury is deadlocked to the point that they are unable to reach a verdict. After trial, there may be some post-trial motions or appeals to address. And sometimes, the case may have to be completely retried. Trials are full of uncertainty.
Following the resolution of a case, many times claims require final administrative work before the matter is concluded. This work usually requires the filing of documents or settling of liens or claims on the settlement funds from third-parties (e.g., medical providers attempting to collect on bills). There are some very nuanced rules that apply when concluding these types of matters, particularly when dealing with liens.
We believe in treating each case like it is going to trial. In our experience, that is the best way to achieve a favorable settlement. What does that mean for you? We work up your case and do everything we can to get the most value for your claim. Though a great majority of cases settle out of court, going to trial is sometimes necessary. Perhaps the other side won’t come to the table in good faith or fails to see a case in its true light. In any case, we’ll be ready to go to bat for you.