What Happens After Suit is Filed in a Personal Injury Claim?

Scales of justiceOnce suit has been filed, the defendant is served with a summons and a copy of the complaint. They have 20 days to file their answer to the complaint.

Once that occurs, the parties serve interrogatories and request to produce documents pertinent to the issues in the case. Interrogatories are questions to the adverse party that must be answered within 30 days. This is called “DISCOVERY”. The defense wants to know more about you and your claim. They will ask about any prior accidents and injuries, previous law suits, lost income etc. They also want information regarding your past medical care and who has treated you for the injuries you are suing the defendant about. They want information to learn everything they can about your past, your family, your work history and your version of what happened in the accident that brought the suit against their client.

They also will request documents to be supplied to them regarding proof of lost income, tax returns, a copy of all of the medical and surgical records concerning your treatment for your injuries caused by the accident. If you had previous medical care for similar injuries, they will want those records as well. In short, they want to know everything about you and your past that could have anything to do with your claim for damages.

The same is true for your discovery of the defendant’s past including prior accidents, insurance coverage, his version of how the accident happened, any medical issues he might have had that could have played a part in the accident. Also, had he been drinking before the accident, was he on the phone or texting when the accident happened etc. Does he wear glasses when he drives and why? Again, you have the right to also to learn everything about the adverse party that could have played a part in the accident.

Next the attorneys will want to take the discovery depositions of the parties. A deposition is sworn testimony taken outside of the courthouse. Depositions are taken for two primary reasons. One is to learn as much as possible about the opposing party relative to the claim. Also, the attorneys want to see how you handle the questions asked of you and they want to see if a jury will like the deponent and believe him if the case has to tried.

The defense has the right to have a health care provider (ie: a doctor, psychologist, physical therapist etc.) examine the plaintiff regarding his claim of injury from the accident. They also have a right to secure all of plaintiff’s medical records and any other records relevant to the issues of the case.

Also, the attorneys will want to depose any and all witnesses to the accident. The defense also will want to depose the plaintiff’s treating physicians to obtain their opinions concerning the injuries, the cause of them and whether the injuries are temporary or permanent. If permanent, they will want to know about the need for future care, disability, work restrictions etc.

Once the discovery by the parties is completed, the parties are in a position to evaluate the claim and begin settlement discussions. They can also advise the court to have the matter set for trial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *