You’ve been through the pre-litigation process with your lawyer and it’s become apparent that your case can’t be settled without a lawsuit. You’ve probably also discovered there are many types of attorneys who may be involved in your case. If you have a great attorney, relax a bit and let’s focus on the next step – litigation.
The word litigation may sound haunting, but it isn’t. As long as you follow your lawyer’s instructions to a “T” during the process, you’ll ensure great legal representation. In this second part of this series on litigation, we’ll deal with:
- Complaint and Service of Process
Step 1. Complaint and Service of Process
First off, your lawyer will draft your complaint. This is the actual lawsuit document and will be served to the defendant by an official process server.
Step 2. Discovery
The discovery phase is the fact-gathering part of the case.
After the defendant has been served, they will usually file an official answer to your lawsuit and send “interrogatories” to your lawyer. Interrogatories are pages of questions that you must respond to with honest answers. No worries about writing the answers using proper grammar or verbiage – your lawyer will take care of that and then return the document to you for review, approval, and notarization before returning it to the defendant.
Examples of discovery questions
What types of questions can you expect? They’re usually pretty standard.
For example you will have to:
- List each and every doctor or medical provider you have seen (for any reason) in the past two years
- List every address you have lived at for the past ten years
The questions are very cut and dry, but do need to be addressed quickly as your attorney only has 30 days to submit the final version.
Other items you will need to have handy are your tax returns, medical bills, medical records, medical tests (X-rays, etc.), prescriptions, receipts related to the case, letters or statements from your doctor, health insurance explanations of benefits, and any photos or videos of the scene, your injuries and property damage. Gathering all of this information and having it on hand is very important as any lateness in submitting them (if asked for them) can result in your case being delayed.
Step 3. Surveillance
How you behave privately during litigation is every bit as important as how you behave in court. The insurance company often hires a private investigator to follow you around for a few days. You can expect that the investigator will photograph and videotape you, hoping to catch you doing something that you should not be able to do with your alleged injuries. Don’t panic about this surveillance. Your doctor has told you what you can and can’t do – follow those instructions, use common sense and you’ll be fine.
The deposition portion of your case is the “meat” of the procedure and has many facets.
Next installment of our litigation series will deal with depositions – pointers on what to do and what not to do. If you missed Part One, you can read it here.
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Contact us at (727) 799-3900 for a free no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.