The information below covers what you can expect from a legal claim, how attorney fees work, and the basics of the legal process you need to know before you sue..
If you have a potential lawsuit claim, share the details of what happened to receive an initial consultation and provide your possible recovery options under the law:
- Your claim options explained clearly & simply
- Be treated with dignity & respect you deserve
- Ensure your needs aren't ignored
When you send us a request for a case evaluation, an attorney will evaluate the facts in your case and determine the potential eligibility for compensation and legal merits of your complaint. The circumstances of your claim will be evaluated in an attempt to assess whether proving legal negligence is probable, what parties are involved and who may be held liable, what the potential for recovery is and how state statutes may apply among other considerations.
Every case is unique, and local state and federal laws may impact your ability to recovery financial compensation and outline the rules of the litigation process.
You deserve a lawyer well versed with how existing laws will apply to your recovery options. If you were involved in an auto accident and were injured, a lawyer experienced with and having a successful history forcing insurers to play fair when handling car crash injury claims is most appropriate.
Let the circumstances of your case determine what type of legal professional would be best. If a loved one was killed, representation with someone who specializes in wrongful death suits would be the natural choice.
Your representation will be able to answer any questions you may have about the claims process and what you can expect if you choose to take legal action.
It's worth noting, frivolous lawsuits will not be considered. A law office is under no obligation to take your case. If your case qualifies and it has merit from a legal perspective, your options will be laid out clearly and simply so YOU may decide whether taking civil action is the best option for you and your family.
In some cases, additional information may be requested or further review is needed before your attorney can make a determination. If this is the case, your legal team will get back to you as quick as reasonably possible.
Once the attorney receives the signed representation agreement, they will document your claim and begin to pursue it with the appropriate courts.
While the first steps will be to file the complaint in the court system, and / or attempt to negotiate an informal settlement from the defendant. A negotiated settlement can often mean a faster financial recovery as opposed to the long waits associated with a civil suit proceeding through the litigation process to resolution. Defendants are often willing to settle out of court when culpability is clear.
In some cases, your lawyer will be able to secure a pre-trial settlement. However, some parties have the means and the will to fight an extended litigation.
If a fair settlement cannot be reached pre-trial, you need an attorney unafraid to go to court and fight on your behalf.
Generally, if no pretrial settlement can be reached the plaintiff's attorney will seek a trial to resolve the dispute by means of a court decision. The rules defining the process can vary from by state but the basic process will generally include the following steps:
Petition the Court - This process begins when your attorney prepares and files the initial complaint or petition with the appropriate state or federal court. This complaint provides a summary of the plaintiff's lawsuit against the defendant. The pleading will contain demands similar to, or more extensive than, your pretrial settlement offer. The defendant will also receive official notice of complaint and a record of the plaintiff’s version of events and facts.
Summons - This is an order from the court which details the venue the trial will be presided over. The defendant will be served court papers which outline the complaint, apply jurisdiction (authority of court over the defendant and case) and gives the defendant notice of time available to pursue dismissal.
Answers - After a summons is issued the defendant’s representative will provide an answer or written response to the complaint. This typically will put forward the potential defense argument used in the case. Each part of the complaint will be addressed. The defense will admit, deny or have inadequate knowledge to answer.
Preliminary Motions - There are a variety of motions which may be filed by the defendant. A motion for dismissal of case which attempts to have a case thrown out may be filed. Other possible motions include: (Motion to Strike, to change venue, to change judge, etc.)
Discovery: In this phase attorneys attempt to determine the facts and accumulate information through a formal and informal process of discovery requiring parties to disclose information. Questions about the events are asked, witness reports are given in depositions under oath and the pertinent documents are reviewed.
The pre-trial litigation of your case involves the legal maneuvering of the legal teams representing both parties in the dispute. Civil suits can often settle following the completion of discovery because a clearer picture of the facts and resulting strength of the case has usually been determined. The majority of claims are resolved before reaching trial - in the event your claim does reach trial continue reading to get an idea of what to expect.Review My Case Now
In a civil trial the lawsuit can be decided on by a judge, also know as a bench trial, or be decided by a jury in a trial by jury. The decision to find for the plaintiff or defendant, determining who prevails in a civil dispute, will largely be based on the preponderance of the evidence - a legal standard or burden which must be met for prevailing. A general outline of a jury trial can be expected to follow some form of these basic steps:
- Selection: The initiation of the jury selection steps recognized by the court system
- Opening Statements: The plaintiff and defendant present their initial statements
- Plaintiff presents case: The injured party presents the facts, evidence and circumstances surrounding the case as they see it
- Defense presents case: The defendant is provided an opportunity to present their argument
- Plaintiff rebuttal case: The injured party has an opportunity to respond
- Closing Arguments: Both plaintiff and defendant present their final argument and summary
- Jury Instructions & Deliberations: Judge outlines to the jury guidelines to follow and deliberations are held in a private chamber
- Verdict: Finding for plaintiff or defendant
- Judgement: Damages are awarded
- Appeals: Process of review until litigation is completed.
The litigation process from filing a complaint to collecting awarded damages can be lengthy and costly. Your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses to support your claims, may collect onsite witnesses in support of your case. Additionally, other legal experts may be retained to provide counsel and support. These experts are brought in to help document your claim meet necessary burdens of proof and establish legal responsibility.
Your counsel has a professional responsibility to keep you informed of the status of the claim during all the steps of the litigation process and maintain reasonable communication with you throughout.
Your legal team is there to support you - lean on them and get the help you need to see your civil action to is resolved.
Justice matters! When you have been injured, a successful tort claim seeking remedy (usually money) can have a life-long impact for you and your family. But it's not just about money - holding the responsible accountable matters.
The best attorneys care about your physical recovery and fight to make right in some way the wrongs which you suffered. Great personal injury litigators know winning a large sum can dramatically change your life for the better, and fight passionately to secure it for you.
Successful civil lawsuits have the potential to provide a large settlement, justice and life-changing compensation for the claimants. Taking legal action can't turn back the clock and undo what happened, but it may be able to provide a sense of closure and financial relief.
If you are offered a settlement, your lawyer will discuss the offer with you so you can consider what's best for you and your family. The decision to accept or deny a settlement is entirely yours.
If you accept a settlement offer or the court reaches a decision in the case, the attorney will provide you with the full details of disbursement for funds won. You may receive a lump sum, a structured settlement, insurance check or other form of recovery depending on your case. The breakdown will include any specific lawyer fees and legal costs incurred during litigation on your behalf and explain how funds will be disbursed to you (based on your original representation agreement). Click here for a more in-depth look into how legal compensation works.
From the initial case evaluation right up to receiving a disbursement check from a settlement, your legal team is there to make the entire process transparent and clearly understood.
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Should you make the decision to move forward with your claim (after the initial consultation) an attorney/client relationship will be established between your attorney and you. Your initial claim review costs nothing, and you are under no obligation to work with the law office who providing it.
If for any reason you don't feel comfortable, or it didn't click, that's OK, you are free to discuss your options with other attorneys.
Cases unlikely to result in a large sum settlement or compensation may not qualify for contingency representation and may ask for a set rate or hourly charge for legal services and counsel. Practice areas where this is a common practice include: • Bankruptcy • Family Law • Immigration • Criminal Defense • DUI Defense • Traffic, etc.
A reputable law firm will always clearly explain their fee structure up-front so there are no surprises - you should be provided a representation agreement with all charges and fees identified in writing up front before a client-attorney relationship is established. Additionally, at LawsuitLegal.com we feel the initial consultation should always be free.
When your claim has the potential for financial recovery, your law firm may be willing to represent you on contingency. Contingency agreements for legal services are more common in cases involving: • Personal Injury • Wrongful Death • Medical Malpractice • Employment Law • Class Action & Mass Tort
In such cases, you essentially get free representation for the duration of your case. All the resources of the law firm will be put to work on your behalf, and you pay nothing out of pocket - unless you win recovery.
In other words, your lawyer getting paid is contingent on recovering legal compensation for you.
If you do choose to take legal action, your attorney will then send you a contingency fee retainer agreement to review. You must agree to the contract and sign it then return it to the attorney’s office before they can start representing you. They will bear the costs of fighting your case (hiring expert witnesses, travelling to court, gathering evidence, and other costs of litigation which may arise...)
A contingency lawyer should make it clear that there are no costs and no fees to be paid out of your pocket unless the attorney can secure a financial settlement for you. Please read your fee agreement carefully and be sure you understand clearly before signing. Don't be afraid to ask questions, your attorneys are here to HELP, and SERVE you.
This type of contingency agreement allows you to have the very best in legal representation without any onerous out-of-pocket expenses which may make it impossible for many to file a legitimate lawsuit.