In today’s episode Chuck continues his description of Personal Injury Claims by going into detail about the Process of Litigation.
My last video series touched on a Personal Injury or Accident Claim.
I want to explain to you the term litigation or filing a lawsuit.
People have heard the term litigation, probably seen it on TV or heard other attorneys talk about it.
But that actually means the mechanics of filing a lawsuit and what you go through prior to getting in front of a Jury.
In Arizona, if you file a lawsuit against someone for their negligent acts and for your damages, as I explained before. Those two parts of your claim.
Then what you do is you file a complaint in one of the superior courts depending on what country you’re in.
Have it served on the defendant or defendants, and they have to file an answer. Once the answer is filed, then you really go to work.
There’s a series of what is called discovery. The defendants are entitled to ask you a series of questions in writing, or ask you to produce – let’s say – medical bills, your medical records.
In turn you can ask the defendants certain things: had they been drinking that night, have they been convicted of any felonies.
It’s pretty broad, the questions that can go back and forth, and just so you know: when you file a lawsuit against somebody, you are opening up your life to them and to really just about any question imaginable.
Now just because they ask a question prior to a trial it doesn’t mean they can ask it in front of a jury. It has to be relevant in front of a jury.
So you go through this discovery process that believe it or not can take a couple of years. On top of that the defendant’s can ask that your depositions be scheduled and set. That typically is in a conference room with a court reporter, you know the person that sits there and they are typing on a funny machine. Nowadays it is a little higher tech – it can be higher tech – and it is a video deposition.
The other attorney for the defendants can ask you a series of questions, and again its pretty broad. Very few objections are made by me of my clients in a deposition because it is so broad; Again it is not like a trial.
So after all of this discovery is done, then you let the court know hey we’re ready, we want a trial date, and again it takes a couple – three years to get in front of a jury. Once you are at that point, the first step is picking a Jury.
And you do that; It is sort of a misnomer, the term picking a Jury. You really exclude who you don’t want for maybe cause, maybe they’ve got some kind of bias, or just because you don’t like them and you have a certain number of strikes and so does the defendant. And who you have left, possibly ten people are the ones that sit there.
You might have the ten that you would have been able to pick them, or you might end up with ten people that you just couldn’t get rid of for one reason or another.
They will sit and they will listen. You are the plaintiff, you are the person suing somebody.
The obligation and the burden is on you to prove your case. Now in a criminal matter it is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other-words the state – the government – has to have a ton of evidence. A difference between “here and here” (A large difference) on the scales of Justice.
In a personal injury claim it is a preponderance of the evidence. It is like “this” just slightly. In other words 51% versus 49%.
So you need to convince the Jury with just a little bit more evidence than the defendant can essentially rebut, or block if you will, or defend against. And convince the jury that hey this guy blew through a red light and he caused you to break your leg, or break your arm, or have permanent eye damage.
The jury gets a series of instructions from the judge, that the attorneys have agreed to. What happens then is they take the instructions, after all of the evidence has been presented and I present my case, the defendant gets to cross examine all of my witnesses, which is pretty broad, and I get to redirect me testimony, so I get the last word. Then the defendant will bring on their people maybe their client to say “I didn’t run a red light”, or their expert to say “there’s no way for you to have a broken leg for this accident, you must have had it before.” Things like that.
An incredible amount of money is spent going to trial. If you can avoid a trail you want to because nothing is guaranteed in life and you don’t know what a jury will do.
On any given day, with any number of people, you don’t know what a jury is going to do. No matter how good your case is, or how bad your case is, you never know.
It is a roll of the dice. Roughly 98% of any personal injury claim settles before trial. It may settle the day before the trial, but they settle. Only about 2% of cases end up going before a jury, with a jury verdict.
Our team of Personal Injury lawyers have over 40 years of combined experience. We have had experience practicing Personal Injury law through all of the stages of making a claim including litigation. If you have a personal injury claim that you think needs litigation call us today. You will speak to a real lawyer and get real legal advice about your specific case. Every case is different, to learn more about what the litigation process could hold for your matter, call us today at 480-545-0700.