Do personal injury cases settle after deposition?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do personal injury cases settle after deposition?

Each personal injury case is unique.  There is no given time where all cases settle, or a guarantee that any particular case will end in a settlement.  However, the majority of civil lawsuits (which includes personal injury cases) settle before trial. Many of these cases will settle at the close of the discovery phase, which includes depositions.

After a personal injury claim is filed in California, the defendant (person who is alleged to have caused the accident or injury) has a set period of time to respond to the complaint.  If the defendant does not respond, the court will automatically enter judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.  The plaintiff is the person who was injured who filed the lawsuit. In most cases, the defendant (represented by an insurance company) will file an answer, contesting most of the plaintiff’s claim. The initial complaint and any answer are known as the pleadings.

After the pleadings have been filed, the next phase of the pre-trial process begins: discovery. This involves an exchange of information between the parties, with each side attempting to gather facts and evidence to support their claim. Attorneys for each side use a variety of methods in the discovery process, such as interrogatories (written questions), requests for admission, requests for production, and depositions.  A deposition is a questioning of another party or witness, taken under oath, and recorded for later use at trial.  Discovery is generally the longest part of the litigation process.

Once discovery is complete, including depositions, lawyers for each side will have more facts and evidence about the case.  This may reveal strengths and weaknesses in one or both parties’ claims that will enable a settlement.  In some situations, even after depositions have been completed, the case will move forward to trial.  While depositions are important and may lead to a settlement, they will not necessarily resolve a case.

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