Phoenix Lawyers / Steps to Filing a Lawsuit

Steps to Filing a Lawsuit

Check out this video about what the steps to filing a lawsuit are. Then, contact our Phoenix injury lawyers to fight for you and your family.

Question:

What are the steps to filing a lawsuit?

Answer:

Steps to Filing a Lawsuit As with any litigation matter, particularly civil litigation matters, there are certain steps that are required. Personal injury law is no different here in Arizona, Phoenix particularly. There’s a couple of steps. If there’s an insurance company involved, a good law firm will always try to get the matter resolved before pursuing litigation. We do that in a series of demand letters speaking back and forth with the insurance company or the in-house counsel or retained counsel of the party that’s at fault in the matter. If we’re unsuccessful at resolving the matter prior to litigation via means of insurance or with the opposing parties council, then you file the matter in court. That starts with again gathering all of the evidence, getting all of the medical records, all of the medical bills, witness statements and whatnot that is going to be required to litigate the case. You always want to go into the case knowing that you have everything that you need to prove your case based on the burden which is the preponderance of the evidence.

Then, after you get all of your evidence gathered, the attorneys draft a complaint. They’ll go over that complaint with you. That’s the lawsuit itself. We use the term complaint in court. That’s the lawsuit itself. Then at that point, that complaint is filed in state court here or in district court here or the appropriate venue. Then that complaint is served on the other party. If they’re served within the state, they have 20 days to respond. If they’re served with a complaint outside of the state, generally they have 30 days to respond or there’s a thing called a waiver of service that they can sign that would give them 60 days to respond to the lawsuit under the Arizona rules.

After they respond to the lawsuit, then that’s when the action really starts to take a hold. You get a scheduling order in place and we determine when depositions have to be done by and when disclosures have to be completed by, if there are going to be experts involved if it’s a car accident, when do we have to tell them who our experts is and when they have to be deposed. There’s a number of things related to evidentiary exchanges that have to take place. Then at some point down the road, there is a trial date set. In the middle of all of that, at some point, parties agree to go to some type of alternative dispute resolution, ADR, mediation of some kind to try to get the matter resolved again. Throughout the whole process, you’re looking for ways to resolve the case.

Here in Arizona, there’s a particular rule— rule 68 as we call it— that offers an opportunity for a party to submit what we call an offer of judgment to the other side, which in effect says, “Listen, we’ll settle this right now if you let us put a judgment in for this case for X dollar amount.” If they don’t accept that offer of judgment within the timeframe prescribed by the law and you go to trial and you are successful and get awarded the amount that you offered them to put for the offer of judgment, then they could be responsible for your attorney fees. That’s a tool that we use to force someone to show we’re spending a lot of money litigating this case. You can take this now but if we win later on, you will be responsible for all of these attorney fees.

That’s one of the steps in the process. You’ll sit with a lawyer. They’ll determine when it’s a good time to issue an offer of judgment and hopefully resolve the case. There’s a number of steps in there. Ultimately, there is a trial and a verdict is given by a jury in determining whether you win or not. These are all steps that one of the attorneys will sit with you and go over with because there are a number of steps that we walk with you all along the way with and make sure that you apprise as to the status of your case along the way.


Have you or a loved one been involved in a personal injury claim and have questions about steps to filing a lawsuit? Contact experienced Phoenix injury attorneys at Smith & Green today for a legal consultation.

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