If you’ve decided your mental or emotional injury case warrants exploration of litigation, your first step is to sit down with an experienced injury lawyer and tell your story. Your attorney will then give you an overview of your case’s strengths and weaknesses from a legal perspective and, by extension, your potential to win damages if you pursue a lawsuit.
It’s important to note that if a lawyer doesn’t feel the case is strong, this is in no way implies that you aren’t injured or that the injury or abuse was your fault. It simply means that the legal system has limitations that will affect this case, or that the burden of proof for establishing causation, liability, and damages may prove too great to risk such emotional investment. If this is the situation, the lawyer may decline the case.
What comes next
If the attorney feels your case is worth pursuing, he or she will explain what comes next as you prepare for trial. Yes, there is a chance that your case will settle before you get to court; 80 to 95 percent of cases do. But since there is no guarantee that this will happen, or at what point in the process, you and your injury lawyer will have to proceed as if you are going to trial.
An important part of prepping for litigation is discovery, which allows the defense to hear your side of the story as well. You’ll be involved in this, preparing for and giving your deposition, as well as answering written questions. You’ll also be subject to evaluation by experts, and spend time meeting with your attorney and attending mediation or settlement conferences. All in all, you can expect to contribute five to 15 days to the preparation of your case.
Throughout the process, your privacy is at risk of invasion. While you may not end up in an expose type of trial, it’s never out of the question. If that happens, the possibility exists that your friends, family, doctors, therapists, employers, and neighbors could be called for depositions. You should be fully aware of this possibility when you decide whether or not to pursue a lawsuit.
If you and your injury lawyer decide to proceed with your case, he or she will ask for a retainer to get things moving. You will be asked to sign a retainer agreement, and you should understand all the terms of it before you sign. If you don’t, please ask your attorney to clarify anything that is unclear.
Your lawyer may begin your litigation process by contacting your psychotherapist if you have one, or another psychological expert for an evaluation that will help with case prep. If you have questions about what this evaluation might entail, or how your injury lawyer may use this information, call the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, APLC at (323) 782-9605.