Question: What do we do if my Case does not Settle?
St. George Attorney answer:
If the insurance carrier cannot agree with your attorney on the value of a settlement for your case, a lawsuit may be necessary. A lawsuit is also called litigation. The suit will be brought against the entity that is responsible for your injuries, not the insurance company.
Your attorney might suggest waiting for a while before beginning the litigation, hopefully to result in the insurance company increasing the valuation of your case. But in cases where there is a large discrepancy between the value demanded by your lawyer, and the one offered by the insurance company, litigation is necessary.
What factors would cause my case to go to litigation?
There are several reasons that a case may go to litigation:
- The insurance company believes that you and your lawyer have asked for too large of a sum of money, and they do not agree to pay it for your claim.
- Liability or “fault,” for the claim is being denied by the insurance company, or they believe you or another party than their insured holds some responsibility for your injuries.
- The insurance company may resist paying your claim because of internal policies that force claimants to go through the lawsuit process.
- The insurance carrier is dragging their feet, hopeful that you and your attorney will propose a reduced value of the claim for settlement.
- The insurance carries might not believe you are injured, or might believe your injury is less severe than you claim. In this case, the insurance company will want you and your lawyer to proceed to litigation so that you will need to prove your injuries in court.
How does a lawsuit affect me?
If a lawsuit becomes necessary, your St. George attorney will help you by explaining in detail what will need to happen to get the process going. It usually involves the following steps:
- Your lawyer will file a claim in court by preparing a “Summons and Complaint,” after all final investigations and preparations of the case. Your attorney will take care of this in his or her office without needing to involve you.
- The Summons and Complaint is served upon the entity or person that caused your injuries. This responsible party will be referred to as the defendant in this document, and you will be called the plaintiff.
- After the defendant is served with the Summons and Complaint, their insurance company will provide an attorney to defend the lawsuit, and that attorney will file an “Answer to Complaint” with the court. The Answer to Complaint will usually deny fault for the injuries , or deny the severity of your injuries. It may even bring up other parties that may have been involved in the incident that caused your injury.
- At this point, the discovery process begins. This is the process in which both parties seek for additional information from each other. You will be involved in this process with your attorney’s help. The following might occur:
- Questions, or “interrogatories,” that need written documentation of answers.
- Oral testimony from you and other parties involved in the case. These are called “depositions.” These testimonies take place in front of both lawyers, with a court reporter transcribing all the questions and answers.
- Your attorney and the other attorney may make “requests for production of documents.” These documents include medical reports, statements from witnesses, bills, lost income documentation, and any other information relating to your personal injury claim. Your lawyer will often have to send all of this documentation to the other lawyer even if it has already been provided to the insurance carrier.
- A possible “Request for admissions.” This process requires each party involved in the litigation to narrow down the issues at hand by admitting any facts that are not in dispute and can therefore be eliminated from the case.
- Trial preparations such as video depositions of your medical practitioners or witnesses. Your attorney may also need to write briefs or appear before the trial judge in preparation for the trial.
- Finally, the trial will occur on the trial date that has been set if your case does not settle before then.
Is it possible that my case will settle in the period before the trial date?
Yes, it’s possible. Cases often come to settlement during the process of the lawsuit before the trial date, but a small number of claims do proceed completely through the process to trial. It’s basically impossible for your attorney to guess when your case will settle, or if it will happen before your trial occurs.