Bill settles nearly every client’s personal injury claim in a negotiated settlement. This means that very rarely do his clients need to go to trial with a lawsuit. However, if your claim doesn’t have the resolution you wanted, you still have the option to file suit. Your lawyer will step you through the process, explaining things as you go. But here is the gist of it:
Your attorney prepares a Complaint. This is a legal document that describes your claims.
The Defendant then receives a copy of this Complaint. The Defendant must answer the Complaint in a variety of ways or else the court may enter a default judgement against the Defendant. The Defendant may admit to portions of the Complaint, contests others, says what defenses the Defendant may have, and whether or not the Defendant has claims against you or another party.
Then you enter a process called Discovery. This means that your lawyer will exchange documents and other information about the issues relevant to the lawsuit. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Depositions” and this is where they come into play. These are formally sworn and transcribed statements that parties will give before a court reporter or other court officer. Discovery can also involve document production and/or written questions that must be answered under oath.
At this point, cases might be resolved in a pre-trial settlement. This means that no trial is needed because everyone involved comes to an agreement about what to do. But, if there is no agreement after Discovery, then the case will to go trial.
During a trial, the attorneys representing each side give evidence and arguments in front of a judge or jury who then decides the unresolved issues. Once that decision is made, the judge orders that Judgment to be entered for the side who wins.
Regardless of the trial’s declared winner, either side can appeal the decision to a higher court. Of course, if both sides are in agreement about those terms, then no appeal would likely be needed.
Bill Coats is an experienced personal injury attorney with a private practice in downtown Bellingham, Washington. Serving Whatcom and Skagit counties he is a phone call away if you have been injured in an accident and want to know if you’ve got a claim. Case evaluations are always free, so don’t hesitate to contact Bill with questions.