Why should I participate in mediation?
July 22, 2013

How we handle personal injury cases

This information is provided to help answer many general questions that you may have about how we handle your case.  It is not a substitute for individual legal advice, and if your questions are not answered please feel free to ask the attorney and/or legal assistant assigned to your case.

Initial Conference

General information regarding the incident will be obtained when you are first interviewed.  You will be asked to sign authorization forms which will allow us to obtain necessary information.  You will meet with the attorney supervising your case and other members of the team that will be working on your case.

Investigation

Police and other accident reports will be obtained.   If you have them already, please bring these to your initial conference.  Letters requesting medical information will be sent to all doctors and hospitals involved in your case.  Anyone who may have been involved will be interviewed, witnesses will be contacted, and photographs will be taken.  Any necessary information from employers, etc., will be obtained.

Evaluation and Settlement

After obtaining all available information, we will carefully evaluate your case.  This evaluation involves assessing the facts obtained through records, consulting trained professionals such as doctors and nurses, and applying this information to the laws of the State of Indiana.  This evaluation generally takes some time, and it is necessary that we first investigate thoroughly and have an accurate understanding of your damages.  One of the most difficult requests we must make of you is to have patience.

After completing our evaluation, we will discuss with you the possibility of settling your case without starting a lawsuit and, if appropriate, attempt to arrive at an amount for which you would be willing to settle your case.  We would then prepare a settlement proposal to submit to the insurance company.

Starting a Lawsuit

If we are unable to settle with the insurance company, or if we determine that negotiations with the insurance company would not be fruitful, we will file a lawsuit.  This process begins when we file and serve a paper called a complaint on the other party (called the Defendant).  This complaint lays out the general facts of the case and lets the Defendant know that he has been sued.  The Defendant should then take the complaint to his insurance company, whose lawyers will then send us a paper called an Answer.  Keep in mind that even though a lawsuit is filed, settlement is always possible, and many cases are settled just before trial.

Discovery

Once a lawsuit is started, both sides have the right to obtain information about the case, including:

  1. Interrogatories are written questions which either attorney may submit to the other party and which have to be answered in writing under oath.
  2. Requests for Production are lists of documents and items that either attorney may submit to have the other party produce which are in the party’s possession or readily available.
  3. Requests for Admission are statements that attorneys request the other party to admit or deny.  Failure to timely respond to these requests results in them being deemed admitted.
  4. Depositions are the taking of testimony or a party or witness given under oath in the presence of the attorneys for all parties to a lawsuit and before a court reporter who makes a verbatim record of the testimony.  We will be with you at the time your deposition is taken, and it is extremely important because the testimony can be used at trial and often factors heavily into settlement discussions.  We will discuss the specific circumstances of your deposition in detail prior to the deposition.  We may also ask you to be present during the deposition of the Defendant or treating physicians.
  5. Examinations may be requested by the opposing attorneys, and you may be required to go to a doctor of their choice for a medical examination.  This doctor will prepare a report and deliver it to the Defendant’s attorneys.  In the event the case proceeds to trail, the doctor may appear to testify.  If the Defendant requires a medical examination of you, we will give you advice about what to do.

Mediation

Many courts require us to go with the Defendant to mediation to try to resolve the case before we proceed to trial.  The mediator is an attorney, but he does not represent either party.  He is a neutral whose goal is to assist you in getting to an agreement.  He cannot be a witness in any court proceeding, must maintain any confidences that you share with him, and can only tell the Court that we reached an agreement or did not.

Trial

If your case cannot be settled at a fair figure, we will proceed to trial.  The weeks in advance are spent in a detailed review and preparation of the case.  What is expected of you in this process and at trial will be explained in detail if the case proceeds this far.

The basic process for trial is as follows:

  1. The jury is selected by questioning prospective jurors and striking jurors until 6 have been passed.
  2. Once the jury is seated, they are given preliminary instructions by the judge and each attorney will be given the opportunity to tell the jury what the case is about.
  3. We will call witnesses and present testimony and exhibits.  The Defendant’s attorney will be allowed to cross examine our witnesses and challenge our evidence.  We pass the witnesses back and forth until no other questions are asked.
  4. The Defendant’s attorney’s will then present their witnesses and exhibits.  We will be able to cross examine their witnesses, and pass them back and forth until no other questions are asked.
  5. We may present rebuttal evidence, and the Defendant may as well.  Once no other evidence remains to be presented, the attorneys will then present final arguments.  We will get both the first and last say to the jury.
  6. The judge will instruct the jury as to the law.  The jury will then deliberate and decide which party wins and what amount of money, if any, is to be awarded.

Recovery

It is impossible for us to tell you how much money, if any, you will receive in connection with your case with any degree of certainty.  Our goal is to obtain an amount which will fairly and justly compensate you for your injuries.   You must sign off on any settlement.  If the case proceeds to trial, we may have to pursue proceedings supplemental to attempt collections of any judgment.

Confidential Information

As your lawyers, we must have all of the facts in order to represent you properly, even if you don’t believe that they are going to help you.  Any information you give to us is strictly confidential and will not be discussed without your permission.

Important Information for You

Do not:

  1. Discuss your case with anyone except your attorney’s office or your doctors.
  2. Sign anything dealing with your case until you receive approval from your attorney’s office.  This include applications for insurance benefits, reports to the State, and disability or unemployment applications.
  3. Discuss your case with any insurance adjuster (whether from your company or not).  Advise the adjuster to contact your attorney’s office.

Save and turn over to your attorneys:

  1. Correspondence, memoranda, and other documents relating to your case.
  2. Physical objects which may possibly have a bearing on your case.
  3. Any other records relating to your case.
  4. Hospital bills, doctor bills, ambulance bills, nursing bills, drug or medicine bills (including both prescription and nonprescription drugs), and all other bills for expenses incurred as a result of the injury, including a notebook record of travel expenses to medical appointments and other out of pockets you incur.

Keep and furnish your attorneys copies of a diary of your complaints and activities, being careful to note:

  1. Any ways in which your injuries have restricted your activities;
  2. Specific pains and their frequency;
  3. The frequency and kinds of medication taken;
  4. The effects of pain, medications, etc.;
  5. The dates on which you are unable to work or perform duties.

We look forward to discussing your case with you, and hope that you decide to allow us to help pursue your case.  Please let us know if you have any questions.