Personal Injury Law Questions & Answers

Q.    How long will a personal injury lawsuit take?

A.    It may take one to three years for your case to come to trial. Please keep in mind that this timetable is only an approximation. More time may be required for a number of reasons, including scheduling conflicts with attorneys and the court’s docket. It is also possible to bring your lawsuit to an end more quickly. An offer of settlement, if made and accepted, may bring an end to your suit at any time.

Q.    What can I expect during my lawsuit?

A.    Initially, we will contact the opposing party to inform him/her that you now have representation. We will then contact the insurance carrier for the opposing party, and inform them of the basis of your claim, the legal theory of liability, and provide them with any relevant information. We also will obtain any medical records or documents to substantiate your case. If we are unable to resolve your claim directly with the insurance company, we will file a complaint with the court. Within 21-28 days following the service of this complaint and jury demand upon the defendants, the defendants are required to answer or otherwise plead. It is not unusual in a personal injury case for the defendants’ attorneys to ask for an extension of time to file the necessary papers. If an extension is granted, the response must be filed within 60 days. At this time, the one-year discovery period begins. During this time, you may be required to answer ‘Interrogatories’ and participate in a deposition. After the one-year discovery period has ended, the court will schedule case evaluation or mediation and trial dates. If the case cannot be settled, it will be tried on the date ordered and selected by the court at pretrial.

Q.    What are “Interrogatories”?

A.    During discovery, the defendants will usually send you some written questions called “Interrogatories”, which your attorney will ask you to answer and return right away. You have only 28 days from the date the court receives these questions to complete the answers, so time is very important.

Q.    What is “Discovery”?

A.    The first 12 month period, called discovery, is utilized for the gathering of facts in your case, which includes (among numerous other things): investigation and verification of insurance information on the parties involved, identifying and obtaining statements of all witnesses, obtaining medical records and reports from physicians, and deposing persons.

Q.    What is a “Deposition”?

A.    At some time during the discovery period, the defendants will want to obtain your testimony in a question-and-answer session with the attorneys and a court reporter present. The testimony you give at this time has the same weight and effect as if you gave the same testimony in a courtroom in front of a judge. This is called a “deposition”, and it can be a critical turning point in your case. Your attorney will notify you when, and if, that is arranged, and of course, spend some time with you beforehand helping you understand what to expect.

Q.    What is a “Case Evaluation”?

A.    After discovery, the court may assign three disinterested attorneys to evaluate each side of the lawsuit and make a recommendation. If both you and the defendant accept the dollar amount of the recommendation, the case can be settled. If all parties do not accept it, we will discuss your case and proceed to trial.