You might feel a bit anxious or uncertain when you begin taking legal action. Or even wary of hiring a lawyer. We get it. Understanding the process helps, so you know what to expect when you choose to work with Hendler Flores Law. Here are the main steps in the lawsuit process:
1. Preliminary Interview with a Lawyer
During the preliminary interview, a Hendler Flores lawyer will ask questions to decide if you have a case:
- Specifics about your injury (why, how, when, and where)
- The circumstances that caused your injury (the why, how, when, and where of the exposure)
- The effect that your injury has had on you and your family – physically, financially, and emotionally
2. Formal Agreement of Representation
If you decide to hire Hendler Flores Law, we request that each of our clients enter into a written agreement that spells out the terms of our relationship. You may also need to sign release forms that allow us to access personal records needed for your lawsuit, such as medical and social security records. If we plan to bring in other lawyers to make your case stronger, we will ask for your written permission.
3. Follow-Up Interviews and Conversations
As we begin to prepare your case for filing, we will need your help in gathering additional information. For instance, we’ll need to know the names of your doctors and other healthcare providers, and we’ll need copies of your medical records. If you don’t have those handy, we can order them for you. Depending on the nature of our case, we might also need police reports, pharmacy records, or purchase receipts.
4. Filing the Lawsuit
Once these steps are complete, Hendler Flores Law will decide on the best place to file your case. This decision involves a number of strategic considerations—Where were you injured? Where is the responsible party located? What location may offer the best chance for a positive outcome? When the choice is made, we file your lawsuit with the court.
After the case is filed, “discovery” begins. Discovery is the formal legal process for collecting evidence about your case. Specific rules of court control this process, and a lot happens during the discovery phase. Hendler Flores Law will create a game plan—a case strategy—to identify the required evidence, determine the witnesses needed to give depositions, and establish the best-negotiating strategy to reach a possible settlement of your case.
Some elements of the discovery process are written. All sides will exchange written questions and answers as well as relevant documents. We may meet with you to provide written answers to the other side’s questions. As we gather evidence, we might ask you to provide more information or to verify information you’ve already given us.
Other parts of the discovery phase involve live testimony in the form of a “deposition”. Depositions are formal interviews given under oath and recorded by a court reporter. Most lawsuits involve a lot of depositions of the people on all sides—doctors, experts, fact witnesses, and family members. Depositions are attended by all the attorneys involved in the suit and may later be used in court as testimony. You and the witnesses who will help you in your case may be asked to give depositions. Before the deposition, your Hendler Flores lawyer will prepare you to answer questions the other side may ask, so you know what to expect.
At the same time, we will prepare your case for trial. We are skillful negotiators, and the better prepared we are for trial, the more the other side will want to negotiate an agreement to pay you the compensation you need and deserve. This is the longest phase of the lawsuit—often lasting months, as the lawyers for all sides gather evidence, coordinate depositions, and attend hearings. All throughout, Hendler Flores Law will give you updates on the status of your lawsuit.
6. Settlements or Trial
Most cases settle before trial because a negotiated settlement is usually better than the uncertainty of a verdict for both sides in a lawsuit. It is your decision whether to accept any settlement offers. If your case does go to trial, it can easily take a few weeks or more. You may be asked to testify in court. But you don’t need to worry; all you have to do is tell the truth. As with your deposition, your Hendler Flores lawyer will help you understand the kinds of questions to expect and advise you on how to tell your story to the jury.
From start to finish, it may take two to three years to complete the lawsuit process. When your case is filed in a busy court, it can be two years or longer before you get a trial date. Though the process can be lengthy, you do not have to feel lost or alone. If you choose Hendler Flores Law to represent you, our lawyers and staff will be there to support you—providing information, assistance, and counsel—through each step of the process.