Once the complaint and answers are filed, the judge will set a date for a trial. Then the next phase of litigation begins, called discovery. This can be a time-consuming process that involves a lot of paperwork, investigation and preparation. There are three main components to discovery:
· Both parties give the other side a set of written questions, called interrogatories, that must be answered under oath.
· Both sides make demands of the other party for production of evidence, such as medical records, a complete copy of the insurance company’s file on the matter, photographs, transcripts of recorded statements and the like.
· Both sides hold depositions of relevant parties, including you. A deposition is a formal meeting where attorneys for both sides ask questions that must be answered under oath. A court reporter creates a transcript that becomes part of the court record, and sometimes the deposition is videotaped.
Then it’s time for the trial. It’s important to note that very, very few cases actually go all the way to a jury trial. While filing a lawsuit is becoming more common for the car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, it’s rare when a defendant’s insurance company will take the risk of trying to make its case in front of a jury.
If you do go to trial, the first phase is jury selection, a process called voir dire. (You can choose to have only a judge hear your trial and make a decision – a process called a bench trial – but it’s almost always better to allow your peers to hear your story and decide.) Then we present your case, the evidence and exhibits we’ve gathered, and witnesses who speak on your behalf. The defendant then gets their turn to do the same. During both processes, each side can cross-examine the other side’s witnesses. Each side makes its final argument before the jury, and the jury decides the case. In civil trials no one is “guilty” or “not guilty,” as they are in a criminal trial. Instead, the jury either “finds for” the plaintiff (you) and assesses an amount of compensation to be paid you, or finds for the defendant (the other party).
The jury’s decision is final, and if a jury finds you were injured and deserve compensation, the judge enters a judgment and orders the defendant to pay you. The defendant and his insurance company have the option of appealing the matter to an appeals court, but that doesn’t often happen.
So these are the many ways we work to settle your personal injury case: negotiating a settlement, mediation, arbitration and trial litigation. Whichever method we use, each has the same goal: to get you fair and reasonable compensation for your injury.
Denver Attorney, Denver Lawyer, Dianne Sawaya