Around 40 million lawsuits are filed each year in the US, so it’s realistic that you may become involved in the process at one time or another.
However, the process of suing someone can be quite confusing if it’s something you lack experience in. That’s what we’re here for.
Check out our list of five things to expect during the lawsuit process, so you won’t be caught by surprise.
1. Speaking to a Lawyer
First things first: consult a lawyer. Make sure that you bring all documentation you need with you, including notes and medical records. The majority of lawyers will offer free consultations, so don’t bother meeting any who charge a fee for this preliminary stage.
You should then evaluate whether they’re right to represent you in your case. They’ll expect you to ask them questions, so feel free to quiz them on their expertise, communication policy, track record, and anything else that you may want to know.
2. Getting the Information
Your lawyer will really investigate everything around your case so they’re better equipped to represent you. You can expect them to keep you updated and informed of any developments as they do so. Of course, they’ll communicate with you too, getting your side of the story, including the why, when, where, and how.
They’ll be in contact with the insurance company directly, and potentially also with the attorney representing the other party in the lawsuit.
3. Filing the Lawsuit
The time will come for your attorney to file the lawsuit in court. The judge will then set deadlines for each stage of the process, which can take a long time, even up to several years, so be prepared to wait.
When the complaint is filed, it’s served on the defendant, who usually has 30 days to answer. In the answer, they’ll either admit or deny the allegations made in the complaint.
Once your lawsuit is filed, you may consider obtaining a pre-settlement loan. These aren’t technically loans, but cash advances given to you based on the estimated value of your claims. Should you lose your case, you won’t need to pay anything back afterward.
In this part of the litigation process, every party will gather evidence, documents, testimony, and other information, both from each other and from other parties.
Written discovery can include interrogatories and document requests, while oral discovery, or depositions, will also take place. This entails all parties being questioned by a lawyer, and it’s important that you’re involved in this.
5. Trial or Settlements
A lot of cases will actually be resolved before the lawsuit is filed, as a monetary offer can be presented to your lawyer. In this instance, it’ll be up to you whether to accept it or go ahead and file the lawsuit.
If the case does go to trial, your attorney will argue your case to the judge or jury, and then the defendant will put forward their defense. The judge or jury will then decide if the defendant is liable, and if so, how much they need to pay you in damages.
The Lawsuit Process
The lawsuit process can of course be more complicated than this, but it differs from case to case.
The five things we’ve outlined here are key parts of the lawsuit timeline. However, it’s best to know what it will entail in advance, as it saves any unnecessary surprises lurking around the corner. With our guide, you should have a better idea of what to expect!
Are you looking for more legal or financial advice? Check out some of our other posts for more information. We might have just what you’re looking for.