The likelihood is that your personal injury claim will reach a negotiated settlement after a demand has been submitted to the insurance company and before a lawsuit is ever filed. In fact, the vast majority of the personal injury claims handled by The Law Office of Paul Benson are resolved without a lawsuit.
When your claim cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, however, you will have the option of filing a lawsuit and your attorney will work with you to explain the steps in the legal process. Basically this is what happens when you decide to file a lawsuit:
Your Seattle personal injury attorney will prepare a Complaint, a legal document that lays out your claims.
The Defendant will have to file an Answer that says what portions of the Complaint, if any, the defendant admits to, what the Defendant contests, what defenses the Defendant may have, and whether the Defendant has claims against you or any other party. If the Defendant doesn’t answer the Complaint, the court may enter a default judgment against the Defendant.
Your attorney will then exchange documents and other information about the issues relevant to the lawsuit, in a process called Discovery. Discovery can take three forms: written questions which must be answered under oath; document production; and Depositions, which are formally transcribed and sworn statements taken in front of a court reporter or other court officer.
Sometimes, it is at this point that the case can be resolved in a pre-trial settlement. In that case, the settlement agreement resolves all issues and the court is either not involved or is involved only informally. If the parties do not reach an agreement the case will go to trial.
What happens at trial?
At trial, the attorneys for each side present evidence and arguments and the judge or jury decides the unresolved issues. Once the judge or jury has reached a decision, the judge will order that Judgment be entered for the side who wins.
No matter which side wins, either side can appeal a judge’s decision to a higher court. But remember that settlements usually cannot be appealed if both sides agree to the terms.
The highly qualified personal injury attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast law firm will provide you with a free consultation, at no obligation to you, about your auto accident, personal injury or wrongful death case. Simply contact us about your injury or call at (801) 627-1323.