So far, we’ve covered hiring an attorney, investigation of your claim, getting treatment, and pre-suit negotiations. The next stage in your lawsuit is, well, the lawsuit.
There are multiple reasons your attorney may decide to proceed with a lawsuit. It may be that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is denying the claim, or refusing to compensate you properly for your injuries, or it may be that the statute of limitations is about to expire and your attorney needs to preserve your claim.
So, what is a “lawsuit”? In its most basic form, a lawsuit is a document that lists the people or companies involved in the dispute, the basic facts of the dispute, the legal reason why the other side is to blame, and a request for compensation. Sometimes, this can be accomplished in just a few pages, other lawsuits are quite lengthy.
Once the lawsuit is prepared, it is generally filed in the county where the injury occurred. There is almost always a fee for filing the lawsuit with the Courts. The Clerk of the Court then assigns the lawsuit a case number, and a Judge to oversee the proceedings for the lawsuit. The Clerk of the Court will give the lawsuit an initial court date, and create the summons. A summons is a notification of the lawsuit given to the at-fault party.
The next step is to get the summons delivered to the at-fault party. In many counties, the local sheriff is used to accomplish this, but in special instances, a private investigator or specially assigned person can be used. There are very specific requirements on how the summons must be delivered to the at-fault party to comply with the law.
The last step in getting your lawsuit on file is for the at-fault party to file an ‘Answer’. This document states all the reasons why the at-fault party believes they are not responsible for your injuries, or presents facts that may change who is responsible. With all these moving parts, this process usually takes 90 to 120 days from start to finish.
Negotiating the intricacies of a lawsuit can be difficult. Have a legal question about your case? Call our offices, one of our attorneys will be glad to speak with you.