People hear all the time about filing a lawsuit. But no one really explains what happens. While this is not comprehensive, it is a guideline of how a lawsuit proceeds. Please talk to your attorney about your specific case.
1.FILE THE LAWSUIT
If your case cannot be settled, a lawsuit will be prepared.Included with the lawsuit, called a complaint, is a statement of damages wherewe list out the amount of your damages. The lawsuit is filed with the court.
2. SERVE THE LAWSUIT
After the lawsuit is filed, it must be served on thedefendant. If the defendant is a person, it is handed to the person by aprocess server. If the defendant is a business, the lawsuit is usually servedon an agent of the business. If we cannot locate the defendant, the lawsuit isserved by publication in a newspaper after the court approves this.
3. ASK/ANSWER WRITTENQUESTIONS
Once the defendant answers the lawsuit, they will sendwritten questions to you to be answered. We will also serve written questionson them to answer. Each side has 30 days to answer these questions.
Each side is entitled to depose, or ask questions orally, the otherside. This may not be done in every case, but the defendant usually deposes thePlaintiff. The questions are asked in front of a court reporter, under penaltyof perjury. An attorney will be present with you for the deposition.
5. MEDICAL EXAMINATION
The defendant is entitled to have you examined by a doctor of theirchoice. The examination is conducted and a report is prepared. Usually, youwill be accompanied by a witness for the examination.
In California,most cases go to judicial arbitration. An arbitrator, an independent thirdparty, hears the evidence and determines the value of the case. A writtendecision is then sent to the parties.
7. ACCEPT/REJECT ARBITRATION
Each party has 30 days to reject the arbitration award. Ifno one rejects the arbitration award, it becomes a judgment and the defendantpays it. If either party rejects it, then the case is set for trial.
8. EXPERT DISCOVERY
Each side retains an expert or experts.These are people who will help tell the jury what happened, including aboutyour injuries. Each side discloses their experts and then the experts can bedeposed, similar to your deposition.
9. SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE
Most cases in Californiathen have a settlement conference. This is one last attempt to get the casesettled before the costs and uncertainty of a trial. A practicing attorneyhears about the case and tries to get the parties to agree to a settlement.
10. TRY THE CASE
If the case cannot be settled, a judge or jury will hear thecase. Each side will have an opening statement, a chance to present evidence tothe jury, a chance to cross-examine the other sides witnesses and a closingargument. The jury will then decide the case and render a verdict.