In our last blog post, we discussed the steps of a personal injury claim that take place before actually filing a lawsuit. In Part 2, we’ll discuss what takes place once a lawsuit is filed.
Filing the Lawsuit
If the responsible party or their insurance company failed to make an acceptable offer to settle your claim, the next step is to file a lawsuit. This is mostly legal work on our part and is when the case is first initiated in the court system. The person filing the lawsuit is referred to as the plaintiff, and the person or business being sued is referred to as the defendant.
Florida law allows the parties of a lawsuit to exchange written documents directed at discovering information about the incident. Along with the lawsuit, we will send a set of written questions to the defendant that they must answer under oath. We will also send a written list of documents and things related to the incident that they must provide to us. Up until this point, the responsible party hasn’t been required to provide us with anything, but once the lawsuit is filed, they are legally required to provide answers to our questions and any evidence they may have.
Likewise, you as the person filing the lawsuit are required to answer questions from the defendant. These are typically questions about how the incident occurred and how you have been injured. We will assist you in writing your responses.
After the written discovery is completed, the attorney for the defendant will probably want to take your deposition. A deposition is basically just a legal interview. The attorney for the defendant will meet with you and your attorney and ask you questions about the incident and your injuries. We will also take the deposition of the defendant and any witnesses that may have information about the incident or your injuries.
Once the written discovery and depositions have been completed, most cases are set for mediation. We will post a more thorough blog post about the mediation process in the future, but this is a brief overview. A mediation is a process where the defendant and their attorney and the plaintiff and their attorney all meet together with a person called a mediator to discuss settling the case. The mediator is a neutral person that doesn’t have any interest or involvement in the case. It is their job to help the parties work together to see if the case can be settled without having to go to trial. All cases in Florida are required to go to mediation before trial.
The mediation begins with the plaintiff’s attorney giving an opening presentation. This is our opportunity to show the defendant, their attorney, and their insurance company our version of the case, and to show them why they need to settle the claim. Just like the demand letter that we discussed in our last post, the purpose of our mediation presentation is to convince the defendant to pay you money. An effective mediation presentation requires a great deal of skill and experience. At The Fina Law Firm, we have developed methods and techniques for presenting your case that are very effective and successful.
After our presentation, the defendant has an opportunity to also give a presentation. Once completed, the parties go into separate rooms and meet privately with the mediator. The mediator then usually meets privately with each party and tries to get each party to agree on a number that will settle the case. Almost all cases do reach a settlement at mediation.
If the case cannot be settled at mediation, it will be set for trial. You’re probably familiar with this part of the process as this is the part that is shown on tv and in movies. Before the trial begins, a jury of six of your peers is selected to hear the evidence and decide and outcome of the case. The trial begins with each party giving an opening statement to the jury. Then, we call witnesses to testify and present your case. Once we have finished, the defendant gets a chance to call their witnesses and present their defense. Next, the parties give closing arguments and then the jury is sent to deliberate and decide their verdict.
The experienced lawyers at The Fina Law Firm are here to help you throughout the process! We’re happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to set up a free consultation today, give us a call at 904-878-2379 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.