As you know from reading my blog, and you should read my blog, most cases settle. In my last post, I wrote about the first five steps of a lawsuit. Those steps included filing the lawsuit and going through discovery. Not every case is the same and your case may have different steps. But here are 5 more steps that should happen in this order:
In California, most cases go to judicial arbitration. The court will typically refer you to an arbitration. An arbitrator, an independent third party, hears the evidence and determines the value of the case. A written decision is then sent to the parties.
2. ACCEPT/REJECT ARBITRATION
Each party has 60 days to reject the arbitration award. This is an estimated time and you should check with your attorney about your deadlines. If no one rejects the arbitration award, it becomes a judgment and the defendant pays it. If either party rejects it, then the case is set for trial.
3. EXPERT DISCOVERY
Each side may retain an expert or experts. These are people who will help tell the jury what happened, including about your injuries. Each side discloses their experts and then the experts can be deposed, similar to your deposition.
4. SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE
Most cases in California then have a settlement conference. This is one last attempt to get the case settled before the costs and uncertainty of a trial. A practicing attorney hears about the case and tries to get the parties to agree to a settlement. In some counties, a judge may handle the settlement conference.
5. TRY THE CASE
If the case cannot be settled, a judge or jury will hear the case. Each side will have an opening statement, a chance to present evidence to the jury, a chance to cross-examine the other sides witnesses and a closing argument. The jury will then decide the case and render a verdict.
A lawsuit in California can be broken down into these 10 steps. Not every case will have all of these steps. If you are unsure about the steps in your case, talk to your attorney.