THE PROCESS

Outline of Representation:

From the Initial Interview to Settlement or Trial

  1. The first step in the process of working on your case involves the client interview. You and family members involved will meet with us either in our office or your home to discuss the case. We will need to explore the facts and circumstances giving rise to the claim.Our office will have to gather more information in the investigation of your case, such as medical records, bills, police reports, witness statements, photographs, and other materials, but at least, initially, whatever information you have will be helpful in discussing the case with you.We will discuss the law as it is applied to the facts of the case as known at this time and possible outcomes of your case. Many times we will not be able to assess the value other than in general terms because the injured person is still undergoing treatment and, in most cases, the medical professionals will not be able to provide a firm prognosis.Valuation of your case is in part dependent on the nature and extent of your injuries and the future consequences of the injuries including future medical and other economic costs. We will ask you to sign an agreement hiring us as your attorney as well as sign medical authorization and sign authorizations for the release of other relative records, such as wage statements from your employer.
  2. The next step involves opening and organizing a file on your case and collecting as much evidence and information as possible to help prove and document your case.

This includes preparation of exhibits and demonstrative aids. We will research applicable laws and medical treatises and articles to review and support your case. Depending on the type and complexity of the case we will visit the scene of the occurrence. If medical or other types of scientific experts are needed on your case we will contact and consult with them.

 

  • Once we have enough evidence to support the claim and evaluate the damages and merits of the case we will discuss with the client issues such as proceeding with trying to settle the case with the wrongdoer/defendant or filing a lawsuit and proceeding with litigation.Both scenarios have their merits but it depends upon the type and complexity of the case. Often it takes a lawsuit for us to get the information we need. We will discuss what is in the best interests of the client.
  • Settlement negotiations can be relatively fast or slow and tedious. Sometimes the parties will decide that a skilled independent mediator will help the process and bring the parties closer to agreeing to a reasonable settlement.

 

Many factors are important on recommending and agreeing to settle. For a further discussion see my article, “Recommending Settlement or Trial to a Client”, appearing in the St Louis Lawyer magazine. A copy can be provided on request.

  • If the case goes to suit and litigation the client will be asked to fill out answers to “interrogatories” that the defendant’s lawyer sends to us.

 

These are questions about the nature of your case including facts, medical providers, bills, economic losses, witnesses, etc. We of course assist the client in answering the “interrogatories”. We will also be required to produce relevant documents supporting your case, such as records, bills, tax documents, statements, etc.

Next will be the “depositions” of the parties and witnesses. Depositions are sworn statements in response to oral questions by the attorneys. Depositions are an oral and detailed inquiry into your case, including your background, the events surrounding and causing your injuries, your damages including medical care. Basically, everything you personally know about your case.

However, any discussions you have had with your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney cannot ask you to disclose this information.

  • The final step will be actually having your case tried to a jury in court. The jury decides whether you win or lose and if you win then the jury will assess your damages. Sometimes appeals will occur, sometimes the cases will settle after the trial.

 

Obviously, this is only a brief outline of your case from beginning to end and if we are your attorney we will discuss the case and the issues throughout our representation and answer your questions to the best of our ability.