While a majority of our personal injury cases are settled out of court, sometimes a deal cannot be reached between the attorney and the insurance company, or the settlement offer is too low and the attorney recommends and the client agrees to go to trial. Most clients do not know what litigation or going to trial means. Below, we discuss 4 steps to help better understand what to expect during this process.
Filing a Complaint and Answer
First, you will meet with your lawyer to discuss what happened, including injuries, medical treatment, and damages sought. Next, your lawyer files a complaint in the appropriate court. As in every case, there is a plaintiff and a defendant. In your situation, you are the plaintiff because you are bringing the suit. The defendant will then file an answer to your complaint, and generally, the defendant’s attorney files a general denial to the allegations.
Conducting Discovery and Filing Motions
Discovery consists of collecting information about the accident and the injuries. The three most common forms of discovery include: interrogatories (questions that must be answered), document requests (requesting documents, such as medical records and police reports), and depositions (parties to the suit and witnesses give testimony that is video recorded at the lawyer’s office). Oftentimes, motions will be made by both sides to ask the court to make a ruling on some issue of concern to that party. For example, lawyers will make a motion to exclude certain evidence if it was collected illegally and is harmful to their client’s case.
Settlement and Mediation
Once discovery is over and all motions are made, the two sides will work to try and negotiate a settlement. However, sometimes the Court will order both parties to try and resolve the case before a neutral third party, known as a mediator.
If a settlement or mediated agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. Before trial, your lawyer will prepare you for testifying in Court. If the amount sued for is $30,000 or less, it will likely be a quick trial in district court in front of a judge. If the amount sued for is greater than $30,000, the trial will be in front of a 6-person jury in circuit court.
If you or a family member has been injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in Maryland and would like a free case evaluation, please call us at (301) 854-9000 or visit us online at: http://www.portnerandshure.com/Auto-Accidents/