- If Negotiation, Mediation or Arbitration Fail, It’s Time for Litigation. What Does That Mean for Your Case?
If Negotiation, Mediation or Arbitration Fail, It’s Time for Litigation. What Does That Mean for Your Case?
In recent articles, we’ve discussed various methods of resolving personal injury lawsuits, including pretrial negotiation along with helpful alternative dispute resolution tools such as mediation and arbitration. But when push comes to shove, and these alternative methods aren’t resulting in a successful resolution of differences between our clients and the defendants who did them significant harm, we never hesitate to go on to the next step: Litigation.
The word litigation refers to the process of assembling all the essential elements required to bring a winning personal injury case before a judge and jury – which includes many steps such as filing the complaint, gathering vital evidence via written discovery, issuing necessary subpoenas, taking depositions, interviewing eyewitnesses, hiring private investigators, and selecting expert witnesses to offer honest, informed and helpful testimony on behalf of our clients. Then, of course, it all concludes with the actual legal proceedings that take place in the courtroom setting – just like on Court TV!
Though, everything begins with you – our clients. Because none of this is possible until an injured person picks up the phone or comes to our office, tells us exactly what happened and who’s to blame for their pain and suffering, and asks us to file a personal injury lawsuit to help them recover lost wages, pay off their enormous medical bills, and seek justice for their pain and suffering.
We should start by reminding you there’s no risk in making that call to 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) since, as we’ve discussed in an earlier article, we always work on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay us nothing until we win your case, and anything your Mike Morse Law Firm attorney ultimately receives comes solely from court-approved settlement funds. We firmly believe this fair and simple fee structure helps level the playing field for average Michiganders who would otherwise be facing off against highly paid, high-powered corporate attorneys entirely by themselves. We imagine, as thousands of others already have, you’ll heartily agree with that straightforward arrangement, where our law firm takes on all the risks but shares in the rewards of litigation only when you win.
So, What’s Involved in Personal Injury Litigation?
As we’re already indicated, litigation can be a costly, painstakingly complicated, lengthy, and demanding process. It involves many stages along the way, but we do our best to make it simple for our clients – whose most important job is recovering from their injuries. As a result, much of what happens leading up to an actual courtroom trial takes place behind the scenes, to help our clients concentrate on getting well, rather than worrying about complex legal matters.
After we’ve had our initial meetings with you to determine the extent of your injuries and the factors that led up to them, we begin a step-by-step investigative process to gather information that will permit us to assess blame, determine damages, file a strong personal injury lawsuit, and plan our subsequent courtroom litigation strategies. Then, once we’ve assembled everything needed, and presuming pretrial negotiations, mediation or arbitration haven’t resulted in a satisfactory settlement offer from the defendants and/or their insurance companies, we initiate the actual litigation process. After the complaint and answer are filed, a pretrial conference is conducted under the auspices of the court.
But assuming the defendants don’t fold up their tents, write our client a large settlement check, and walk away from the table, the pretrial litigation phase continues – usually with what’s known as the discovery process. It includes taking sworn depositions from eyewitnesses and expert witnesses; conducting additional detailed investigative work; obtaining copies of police reports or other documents related to the case; researching the long-term effects of the injuries our clients have experienced; gathering healthcare/rehabilitation receipts and other medical records; estimating financial harm (like lost wages) and non-economic damages (such as for the pain and suffering) our clients have experienced; and undertaking many other essential administrative and legal filing tasks to ensure we’ve got everything ready to go when the trial date arrives. In short, we strive to have all our ducks in a row, so guilty defendants can’t possibly duck the hammer of justice.
Just before the trial begins, the court will usually conduct a final conference with both sides where the judge makes one last-ditch attempt to resolve the case. At this point, attorneys representing the plaintiff and defendant have usually seen enough evidence to help them make educated guesses at the possible outcome of a case before it goes before a jury… and often the defendant will make their best possible settlement offer. We then typically confer with our clients, give them an honest assessment of what we predict will take place in a courtroom setting, and it is up to the client (not us) to decide whether to accept the settlement being offered. If the answer is “take them to court,” we roll up our sleeves and get ready!
In the weeks following the decision to go forward with a trial, we continue working for our clients, taking additional depositions as needed, going through the arduous process of jury selection to be sure our client is fairly represented and has a trial before a “jury of peers” (and not one comprised entirely of people who might be sympathetic to the defendant), and helping our clients prepare an honest and persuasive testimony under oath. So, when the bailiff utters those fateful words, “All rise,” we want you to be comfortable and confident that together we’ve done everything possible to ensure a positive outcome for you and the people you love.
Then, as you’ve no doubt seen in countless television courtroom dramas, the trial takes place. Evidence is presented, witnesses are called to testify, cross-examinations are permitted, final arguments are delivered, and a judge and jury decide the outcome of the case. Depending upon that decision, a case might be finalized, and a settlement awarded, or appeals may be made to higher courts.
What Are Benefits vs. Risks of Pursing Litigation?
When negotiation, mediation or arbitration aren’t working, sometimes the mere threat of litigation is enough to bring defendants to the table – and to their senses. Beyond that obvious benefit to our clients, litigation can provide injured parties with a sense of justice being done and can even help satisfy that intensely human desire for validation. In addition, it’s sometimes possible to win a much larger settlement in a courtroom setting than what was originally offered by the defendant before the trial. For example, one of our clients recently directed us to reject a paltry $275 thousand pretrial settlement offer from an insurance company. In the subsequent trial, we won $2 million for that client – money which will certainly help him to support his family, to recover from his injuries, and to live his best life possible despite suffering from significant long-term health effects.
Are there risks to choosing to go the litigation route? Certainly. A long delay before trial, or a lengthy court case that lingers in the back of your mind for months, can result in anxiety, family stress, and financial turmoil. Or you could perhaps have the bad luck of running into an unfriendly judge or be surprised by a jury decision that doesn’t go exactly the way you’d hoped but know that we’ll do our very best to prevent that from happening. Finally, there’s the risk that you might win a smaller-than-expected award, or possibly even lose your case either in the initial legal proceedings or during the appeals process, though we promise to work our hardest to ensure your success in the courtroom and beyond. In short, there are certainly risks when you go to trial, but our long experience and legal expertise will help minimize them for you.
I Want to Pursue Litigation — What’s Next?
To sum it all up, we promise to advise you honestly and directly about our assessment of your potential success if we do decide together to go the route of litigation, and our track record – winning more than $1.5 billion for our grateful Michigan personal injury clients – should speak for itself. To get in touch with us if you’ve been hurt through no fault of your own at work, on the road, in a hospital, on a bus, aboard a boat, in a slip-and-fall incident, or anywhere else across the Great Lakes State, call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or use our convenient online contact form. We promise to be there for you whether your case needs negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or even if it has to go all the way through litigation. It’s just what we do.
Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.