In California, if a case is settled in a pre-litigation setting, the case will settle under two years. The length of time depends upon medical treatment and recovery. Any settlement arrived at before medical treatment has been exhausted will result in a lower than expected settlement value. By two years however, the case must then be filed and moved from a pre-litigation setting into litigation. California’s statute mandates that a case must go to trial before the expiration of five years from the date of filing the lawsuit. This is called the 5-year rule.
Once the case is moved into litigation a lawsuit, called a complaint, must be filed and served upon the defendant(s). The insurance company will assign an attorney to represent the defendant(s). The law firm that has been hired by the insurance company must file an answer to the complaint within 30 days of the summons and complaint being served upon them, unless an extension is granted. Sometimes, there are valid reasons for an extension, for instance, if the parties are negotiating a settlement. Sometimes there are not valid reasons for an extension, and the 30-day rule must be followed.
After the answer to the complaint has been lodged, the discovery process begins. This involves written interrogatories that must be completed by all parties. These are burdensome question/answer forms that are lengthy and that take many hours to complete. Depositions, of not only the plaintiff but, of the defendants, will be taken.
Other ancillary motions, such as motions to compel testimony, request for admissions or to produce documents, witness depositions, police officer depositions, treating doctor depositions will take place. Expert witness depositions may be required by both sides before a case can be resolved. The case may be placed into a non-binding arbitration by the court. If this does not lead to an acceptable arbitration award for either side, then a motion for a new trial by either side can be filed. This motion, will be granted and will place the case back into the trial court.
It’s not uncommon for cases in litigation to be in the courts a long time. The courts get backed up, and it is not unusual for the court, on its own motion, to continue a case and sometimes continue a case more than once. The court can also continue a case beyond the 5 year statute by declaring a mistrial. If an appeal is granted following trial, the case must be tried again.
In litigation and throughout the litigation process attempts are made to resolve the case. Most times, cases are successfully resolved before trial. For more information on the Timeline Of An Auto Accident Case, a video consultation is your next best step.