So, what's the process behind a personal injury lawsuit? My name is Kenneth Berger, and I made this video to help answer that question. Now, the first thing to know is that not every injury case results in a lawsuit. Sometimes, those cases can be negotiated and settled through demand packages to the insurance company before a lawsuit has ever been filed. By the same token, and as you probably know and expect, is that not all insurance companies and not all claims are going to be treated fairly. We may send a demand, it may be clear what the insurance company needs to do, but if they don't make a satisfactory offer - and by satisfactory, I mean to your satisfaction - then at that point, a lawsuit becomes necessary. After a lawsuit is filed, the person we file the lawsuit against, again whoever caused you harm - the person, the company, some combination of people - after that lawsuit's filed, the lawyers for their insurance company will file an answer to that lawsuit. Once we get their answer, we begin a process of what the law calls discovery, and it's exactly what it sounds like. They seek to discover things about the damages we're claiming - be it your medical bills, your medical records, our view on why it is they're responsible - by the same token, our South Carolina personal injury attorney sends requests to them asking for answers to certain questions and asking that certain people and certain documents be identified, so we can uncover not only what happened to you but why it happened to you.
The next step in a personal injury lawsuit, is typically what is known as depositions, and depositions are just fancy legal words for legal interviews under oath. So, most of the time, if you're claiming you were injured, we of course acknowledge that you were, insurance companies and their lawyers want something more than just your words and mine. So they're going to want to take a deposition where they just ask you a lot of questions about your past medical history, past claims history, how the collision or other type of accident happened, your medical treatment since then, and how you're doing now and what they can expect in the future as far as medical care. Ok? And again, we're going to take depositions to find out why in the heck these people hurt you. An accident is when a kid knocks over a glass of milk. Usually, if something ends up in a lawsuit, it's not an accident. It's a series of choices that culminated in you getting hurt.
Discovery in a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuit
Once discovery is done, once depositions are done, the next thing oftentimes in South Carolina, is what's called mediation. And a mediation is where you and me and anyone, be it from your family or otherwise, we sit on one side of the table, and the people or company that caused you harm, their lawyers and insurance people, they sit on the other side of the table, and yet another attorney sits at the end of the table, known as a mediator, and that mediator hears from us, hears from them, and then we break up into different rooms.
They go to one room, we stay in one room, and that mediator goes back and forth throughout the day or a couple of days to try to get them to pay more, to try to get us to accept less, and to try to get us to reach a voluntary agreement. An important thing to know about mediation is that what we do at mediation, whether or not your case settles at mediation, is completely voluntary. Ok? If they don't offer enough money to settle the case, then the case doesn't settle. And the next big step after mediation is, of course, a trial. Now there are plenty of cases that settle between mediation and trial or during the trial, but if not, then we go through trial all the way to a jury verdict, and ultimately, it's the jury verdict that will determine the outcome of the case if we haven't been able to settle it before then. That settlement process from the time a claim is initially filed through a jury verdict, that process - you know, honestly, it can last a couple of years.
In other situations where a trial isn't necessary, but where it's pretty obvious that they need to pay you and what that number is, as to what they need to pay you, those cases can take, you know, less than 6 months. But just know, big picture-wise, that the process from the time a claim is filed until there's going to be either a settlement or a jury trial, that entire process can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years depending again on whether or not they voluntarily settle your case, or whether not we end up in a courtroom in South Carolina and trying your case to a jury verdict.