What to Expect When You File a Lawsuit
You may feel a bit nervous or confused when you begin 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 HendlerFlores Law as your law firm. Here are the main steps in the lawsuit process:
1. Preliminary Interview with a Lawyer
During the preliminary interview, a HendlerFlores 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 HendlerFlores Law, we request 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 think it would strengthen your position to team up with other strategic partners, we will ask for your written permission before we share our fee.
3. Follow-Up Interviews and Conversations
As we get into the facts, we’ll ask for additional information. We might need your help, for instance, identifying doctors and other healthcare providers, family members, friends and co-workers and witnesses who can give us additional valuable information.
4. Filing the Lawsuit
Once these steps are complete, HendlerFlores 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 the process. A lot happens during the discovery phase. HendlerFlores 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 discovery is 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 discovery involves 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 HendlerFlores 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, HendlerFlores 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 HendlerFlores 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 HendlerFlores 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.
Learn How We Can Help
If you or someone you love has suffered catastrophic injuries, contact our office today. We’re here to listen as well as to help you learn more about your legal options. Let us use our years of experience with difficult cases to help you recover the legal compensation you deserve.
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