What are the Steps in a Lawsuit

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What are the steps in a lawsuit? The start of every lawsuit begins with the complaint and having it served to the defendant. A complaint is usually filed in the county where the injury occurred. The complaint can also be filed where the defendant lives. The next step in every case depends on the exchange of information. The exchange of information is the discovery process. The discovery process includes the exchange of medical bills, photos, depositions and other documents relevant to the case.

the attorney will handle most of the discovery with little input from the client. However, the client is a crucial person in answering interrogatories and requests for admissions. Depositions are when each lawyer has the opportunity to ask questions of the respective parties and any other fact witnesses that may have information concerning the events at issue. Depositions take place at one of the lawyer’s offices and are usually a determining factor in the case. After the fact witnesses are deposed it is then time for expert discovery. Expert discovery usually is limited to reports but can also include depositions. Common expert witnesses are doctors, economists, forensic accountants, and or life planners.

After fact and expert discovery is concluded then there is usually a period of time where each side attempts to settle the case. This usually takes place in a mediation. Mediation is where the parties get together and have a mediator help resolve the dispute. Often times mediators are retired judges or attorneys that have substantial experience in a particular practice area. Mediators can help the parties see pitfalls and strengths in each other’s cases. Client participation is key during mediation because it allows the mediator to see the affected party. It allows the mediator to talk to you and to get a sense of how the case can be settled. Mediation is also a good opportunity for the client to really hear the defense’s side and what they may present at trial.

The final phase of every case is trial and while it is very rare that a civil case goes to trial, it is probably the part of the litigation process that most people are familiar with. However, trial is not simply going to the courthouse, trial will include weeks of preparation with your attorney. They will need to prepare your testimony as well as all the other witnesses. The trial takes place in the county where the complaint was filed and usually most cases take around a year and a half from the time the case is filed to the time of trial.

Frequently Asked Questions Part 3

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Why am I not being compensated when I have full insurance coverage?


Many drivers believe they have full coverage, but are not insured under certain circumstances. There are several different types of insurance coverage, and failing to have a particular one may limit recovery.


In many cases, our clients often find that even though they believe they have “full coverage,” they do not have underinsured or uninsured coverage, which will cover you in the event of an accident where the other party cannot pay.


Contact your insurance company and discuss what coverage you have, when the coverage is applicable, and, if necessary, call us if you believe your insurance company is trying to avoid paying a valid claim.


If this is not the case, and you do have full insurance coverage, you may not be satisfactorily compensated because your insurance company wants to minimize payouts.


There are often disagreements about specific language in your insurance contract, how much a claim is worth, and whether any other parties are involved who may be responsible.


If other insurance or health insurance companies are involved, there may be disagreements over who is responsible for payment. These issues can cause serious delays in compensation.

How soon should I file a lawsuit?


You should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your accident. The timeframe that you have to file a lawsuit is referred to as the statute of limitations.


If you fail to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, your case will be forever barred. However, with respect to claims against government entities or for medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is much shorter. Therefore, due to the time-sensitive nature of personal injury claims, you should immediately contact an attorney regarding your injury.

What does it mean to “file suit,” and why do we do it?

The act of filing legal papers at the courthouse is called filing suit. The client gives the authorization to file suit after all other options have been exhausted during pre-suit.


It is becoming more and more common for the insurance industry to step up and employ aggressive tactics in defense injury claims. This shift in insurance industry practice is why it is more important than ever to hire an attorney that is not afraid to go to trial and has the experience to win.


When a case is filed with the court, it does not necessarily mean you will be accompanying your lawyer to the courthouse but it becomes a more distinct possibility. Most cases are able to be resolved before trials begin, but some still reach the courtroom.

What is a deposition?

A deposition is where the attorney representing the other side can ask you questions to better understand your claims and injuries. Our attorneys can prepare you for a deposition by reviewing documents, such as police reports or medical records, which are related to your personal injury claim.


We will also prepare you for questions that may be asked during the deposition and we will be there during the questioning to assist you.

What Are Some Typical Questions That Might be Asked During Deposition?

  • What types of illnesses and injuries have you suffered from during the course of your life?
  • Have you previously been involved in any other lawsuits or legal claims (i.e. workers compensation)?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident?
  • Did you file an insurance claim?
  • What is the nature of your injury?
  • What is your job history?
  • How has your injury affected your life?
  • When was your last treatment?

I was injured when I fell down a slippery step, can you help?

Whenever you are injured because of a dangerous condition on someone’s property, you may have a claim to recover compensation for those injuries.


Landowners have a duty to warn of dangerous conditions on their property and to make their property safe. As with any personal injury claim, the most important thing you can do is find an experienced attorney to help you preserve your evidence and protect your rights.


Often a delay in retaining an attorney can adversely affect your claim.

I was injured by taking a prescription drug, what should I do?

If you have taken a prescription drug (or over-the-counter medication) and believe the product has caused you to experience serious adverse side effects or serious injury, you may be entitled to compensation for the injury.


The first thing you should do is preserve all evidence. This means keep all medical records, receipts, prescriptions, packaging and anything else related to the drug, including whatever is left of the drug itself.


Do not give the remaining drug or packaging to your doctor, pharmacist, drug manufacturer or insurance company.


Can you help if my baby was born with a serious injury?

You may have a case. The most tragic injuries can happen during a birth. Sometimes the injury is caused by negligence or malpractice. When this is the case, the pain and suffering it causes can be eased by an award that compensates you for the full consequences of the injury and its long-term effects.


If a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit what should we do?

This is referred to as a wrongful death. Spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, and grandparents can have a claim for wrongful death against a responsible party.


The possible types of damages that can be sought for wrongful death are: Financial support that the survivor(s) would have received, Value of household services that would have been provided by the decedent, Loss of companionship, affection, love, care, comfort, society, Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse, Funeral, and burial expenses.


These cases are complicated because the loss of a loved one can completely alter the life of the surviving family.  It is important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled wrongful death cases, and we have had great success and compensation for our clients.

The person that hit me does not have insurance, what can I do?

Insurance companies offer what is call uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. What this coverage provides is protection for personal injuries that are caused by the negligence of a person with insufficient insurance to cover the costs.


In order to be protected by this type of insurance, you have to carry it on your own policy. In the very small number of situations where a negligent driver is uninsured, your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy holder will be liable for the damages you incur.


These claims often operate in exactly the same way as a normal personal injury case, with the difference being that you are recovering from your own insurance carrier.


It is very important to remember in these situations that the representatives from your carrier are not out for your best interests. Just like every insurance adjuster, they will be looking to minimize the insurance company’s loss.


Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in these situations is the best way to ensure that you are protected.

Frequently Asked Questions Part 2

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What should I bring with me for my initial no-cost review?


You should bring all documents in your possession that are related to your injury.


For example, with an auto accident you should bring:

  • A copy of the police or incident report,
  • A copy of your automobile insurance declaration page
  • Photographs of your automobile
  • Photographs of your injuries
  • Copies of any medical records for treatment related to the accident
  • Correspondence from the insurance companies
  • Estimates and repair records and receipts for your automobile
  • Receipts for towing and car rental
  • Any wage loss information.


During our meeting, we will make photocopies of all of your documents so that you can retain a copy for your records. We will also provide you with checklists for any other information that we may need from you.


How much is my case worth?


Each case is unique so it is hard to determine a client’s damages at the very beginning but every injury claim depends on the severity of the injuries, case details, limits on insurance or the ability of the responsible party to pay, and the identity of the defendant.


Assuming the liability issue is straightforward, a case’s worth is mostly based on the five areas listed below.

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Past medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Lost wages


A case’s value is based on evidence, such as discrepancies in the testimony or other portions of the case that may detract from the integrity of the injured party’s claims.


Based on our experience with past cases, we may be able to estimate the value of your case once we have gathered all medical records and statements and have an idea as to whether you or your loved one’s physical and mental state has improved or worsened from the date of injury.


The following factors will be considered when determining the amount of compensation owed for your injuries:

  • The severity of your injuries;
  • The details of your accident;
  • Your degree of fault;
  • Your employment history;
  • Your ability to work;
  • Your life expectancy.
  • The manner in which you obtain medical treatment,
  • Your lifestyle, and
  • Your litigation history will also be considered.

Is my case big enough for a lawyer to handle?


Lawyers handle small, medium, large, and very large damage cases. Our injury cases range from soft tissue injury auto accident cases to catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. We are equipped to handle all personal injury cases resulting from negligence and we are happy to review any case free of charge.


What is negligence?

To have a viable personal injury claim, the victim must have been injured from the negligence of another individual or entity. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise a reasonable standard of care for the safety of others. If a person fails to act as a reasonable person would, he or she may be liable for any resulting damages.


Is there a different basis for personal injury liability besides negligence?

Yes, the other basis for personal injury recovery is called strict liability. Strict liability holds people accountable for the harm that that they have caused others, even if there was no negligence involved.


Under a strict liability theory, a person who is injured may recover compensation by a defective or dangerous product without showing negligence, but this theory of liability is limited to specific situations and is a narrow exception for most cases. The most common strict liability cases are dog bites but they also can include a person using explosives, or storing dangerous substances.


Why do I have to pay the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) deductible on my insurance?

When choosing a plan, you have the option of paying a low monthly premium with no deductible—should you be in an accident.


You also have the option of purchasing PIP insurance with deductibles ranging from $250 up to $2000. If you have a deductible, your premium will be higher depending on the amount you choose.


If you choose to have a deductible, you are agreeing to pay that amount up front in the event of an accident before the PIP insurance will begin coverage.


How long will my personal injury lawsuit take?

There is no general timetable for personal injury cases because each case is so unique. A personal injury lawsuit may settle in a few months without the need for a trial, while others may take longer to complete.


Who can be held liable for a catastrophic injury?

To determine liability, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. More than one person may be responsible for your injuries. Depending on your type of personal injury, the liability may rest on a hospital, doctor, motor vehicle driver, truck driver, employer or drug manufacturer.

What can I do if the person that caused my injury is claiming that it was my fault?

Many negligence cases involve a he-said/she-said situation, where it is initially unclear exactly what happened. An experienced attorney will have a plan of action for proving who caused the injury.


Lawyers can work with a number of investigators and accident reconstruction professionals that can often provide scientific evidence of how the accident occurred and who is to blame.


It’s important to note that not every case is the result of just one person’s negligence. Often more than one person, sometimes including the injured party, is to blame for the resulting damage. In this situation, an accident victim can often recover a percentage of the damages that he or she sustains.


Working with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys is often crucial for receiving compensation in this type of situation.

Can I still pursue compensation if I was partially at fault for my injuries?


It depends on your jurisdiction. In a few areas, individuals cannot recover compensation if their negligence partially contributed to their injuries. However, in Utah, victims can still receive compensation if they were partially at fault for their injuries. In these cases, the amount of compensation awarded to the victim may be decreased in accordance with the victim’s degree of negligence.

Frequently Asked Questions Part 1

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How Much Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

There is no cost for initial consultations, so you can talk to a Lawyer risk-free. Any information you share with the Lawyer will be kept strictly confidential. Personal injury cases are done on a contingency-fee basis. That means that you don’t have to pay anything until the case is won or settled.


Why do I need an attorney?

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s mistake, you need a personal injury attorney. Insurance companies do this every day, and they don’t get to be big companies by paying a lot of claims.


In fact, they have teams of experts whose job it is to reduce the amount they pay out on claims. If this makes you feel a little sick inside, it should. Someone paid premiums on that insurance policy, sometimes for years, expecting that if they made a mistake, the insurance company would compensate the people they hurt.


The idea that a rich insurance company would take those premiums every month, and then work so hard to avoid paying claims is disgusting. That machinery is exactly what you are up against when you are injured in an accident.  You need expert advice to help you navigate these dangerous waters, and avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance industry.


It is important to remember that your personal injury claim will not be decided by the person who accidentally hurt you. The claims are decided either by the insurance company or by a jury in court.


Lawyers are here to protect you, and to uphold the rules of law that promote and protect the safety of the community. If careless people and their insurance companies can hear your experience and be made to provide full compensation, they will learn to be more careful, and our community will be safer for everyone.


Insurance companies avoid paying damages by pointing the finger. They will claim that your injuries aren’t real, that it was someone else’s fault, that your suffering is made up, and if that doesn’t work, they may even suggest that you are a liar and a cheat.


We know this sounds a little extreme, unfortunately, this is an argument we see insurance companies make over and over.


Their lobbyists spend billions of dollars every year trying to convince people like you that frivolous lawsuits are filed all the time, and that money-grubbing plaintiff’s and their lawyers are ruining America.


If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by the negligence of someone else, you know this “tort reform” propaganda is false. It takes a skilled attorney to help jurors understand that people do not go through the hassle and expense of filing a time-consuming lawsuit when their claims are frivolous.


You need an experienced attorney to fight for you against this “tort reform” bias, and help jurors understand who you really are, and what you are suffering because of this needless accident.


The insurance company said I don’t need an attorney – is that true?

It is a violation of the Utah Administrative Code for an insurance company representative to discourage you from hiring a lawyer. If that happens, make sure and take down the name of the representative and the name of their company so that they can be reported to the insurance division.


Utah created this rule because your interests and the interests of the insurance company are not the same. This suggests that even the State of Utah recognizes that it is better for you to deal with insurance companies through an experienced personal injury lawyer.


Again, if you have been injured in an accident, always get an opinion from an experienced personal injury lawyer. You have rights, and lawyers are trained professionals who will help to protect those rights. Lawyers can give you unbiased legal advice at no cost to you.


Why not get the opinion of an experienced lawyer before trying to deal with the insurance company, especially when it doesn’t cost you anything?


What if I tried to start my case on my own?

Some people have already tried to deal with the insurance company on their own. Often, they end up going to a lawyer because they feel they are not being treated fairly, and they find the process stressful and burdensome.


We are here for you! When clients come into our office that have tried to deal with claims on their own, we immediately begin reviewing the files to protect their interests and undue (whenever possible) anything negative the insurance company has already done to their case.


This process begins by gathering the necessary information and immediately informing the insurance company not to communicate with our clients anymore. They are asked to direct all further communication to our office, and we will take steps to protect your private, personal information from their prying eyes.


It is our goal to alleviate as much stress as we can from you so you can concentrate on getting healthy again, both mentally and physically.


Should I sign a release?

No! This sounds harsh, but never sign anything that has not been reviewed by your attorney. Insurance companies would like nothing better than for you to sign away all of your rights and privileges without consulting with a lawyer to determine what your claim is actually worth. If you sign a release, you may be unable to recover future damages.


In some instances, the insurer may offer an early settlement, which may not fully compensate you, as they may still be unaware of the extent and future costs of their injuries. We will help you every step of the way!


Should I accept the insurance company settlement?

No matter how nice the insurance adjuster seems or how many details they give you regarding your compensation, the adjuster’s goal is to pay you as little as possible.  In fact, the adjuster is usually rewarded for resolving claims for as little as possible and as quickly as possible.


It cannot be reiterated enough that insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts to maximize company profits.


For these reasons, it is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to visit you very soon after an accident.  To entice you to accept a settlement for far less than you could recover, the adjuster often comes ready to make a payment immediately.


This is an underhanded tactic used to end a matter right away when an injured party is at their most vulnerable and has not had time to fully evaluate their injuries and options.


It is important not to fall for this trap!   There is no reason to make rash decisions about a settlement or offer from an insurance company.  It is prudent to fully think through all legal decisions and not to sign away legal and/or medical rights without being fully aware of the consequences.

Should I make a statement to the insurance company?


The short answer is no! Remember, the insurance company’s interests are not the same as your own. There is no benefit to making recorded statements or providing material to the insurance company without first getting legal advice.


In most cases, these requests are made specifically to use your words against you in possible legal cases in the future.  Even if you simply intend to state that you were not responsible for the accident, it is very easy for these comments to be taken out of context and used adversely.  Please, always get legal advice first.