Most people who have been involved in a personal injury accident for the first time are very unfamiliar with what happens if they want to file a lawsuit. That’s where The Law Firm of Cohen & Cohen is here to help.
One of the most important industry terms to understand in personal injury is “litigation”. Here’s some high-level information to help you become familiar with the process of filing a suit and what the defendant’s rights are during this process.
First, it’s important to understand the formal definition of the term “litigation”.
The litigation phase, or “discovery phase”, is a fact- and information-gathering time during which your attorney becomes familiar with your case and the defendant's case. Several procedures comprise this process, particularly depositions and interrogatories.
What Should I Expect in a Deposition?
Depositions are statements given under oath by both parties involved in a lawsuit. Our team will take a deposition of the defendant involved in your case, as well as of any witnesses to the accident or anyone with information that pertains to your claim. We ask these questions to find information that will support your case.
It’s important to note that the defendant’s attorney has the right to do the same to you. When taking a deposition from a defense attorney, you will likely be asked how the injury occurred, what pre-existing conditions or injuries you have, what claims you’ve filed previously, etc. All of these questions are asked in order to find any information that may hurt your case.
How Should I Prepare for Interrogatories?
Parties within a lawsuit also exchange written questions that must be answered under oath. These are called interrogatories, and your attorney will assist you in answering them. It’s important that you begin work answering these interrogatories as soon as you receive them from our offices. We will assist you in preparing the final response.
What If I Receive a Settlement Offer?
At any of these stages, discussion of a settlement might arise, and we will advise you as to any offers made during the pendency of your claim. We will then discuss the feasibility of a settlement and how much you would receive. Should a settlement not be feasible or the settlement offer be too low, preparation for trial will begin. More often than not, a defense attorney will offer a settlement amount that may be tempting at first, but is likely much lower than the long-term expenses that will come with recovering from your injury/injuries. Here's why you should never accept an insurance adjuster's first settlement offer.
What Is the Trial Process?
If we and the other person's insurance company have not agreed on a fair settlement amount, then we will take the case to court if you wish to do so.
If that route is taken, we will discuss the trial in depth with you. Prior to any and all depositions from the defendant’s attorney, your attorney will assist you through a conference. During the conference, your attorney will discuss what type of questions you should expect and how you should conduct yourself at a deposition. Also, your legal team will discuss matters crucial to the development of a satisfactory settlement or jury verdict, such as the accident, your injuries, how the defendants might conduct themselves in investigating your claim and other issues.
What Rights Does the Defendant Have?
It is not uncommon for a defendant to send an investigator with a video camera to follow you and observe you after the accident (without your knowledge) in hopes of finding information that could hurt your case. Please remember that the minute your claim is initiated by the letter sent from your attorney to the defendant or their insurance company, you could be observed without your knowledge or consent.
The defendant also has the right to have you examined by a doctor of his or her choice. This doctor is usually much more conservative in his or her opinions of your injuries and will prepare to testify for the defendant at court.
Trusting Cohen & Cohen
At The Law Firm of Cohen and Cohen, we care about our clients. You put your trust in us, and we will assist you in every way possible to obtain compensation for losses you or a loved one has suffered. If you have experienced a personal injury and would like to speak with an attorney about your case, contact us today to set up a free evaluation. We look forward to helping you with your legal needs.
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