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.