So You’re Being Sued
Steps in the litigation process
- Suit filed and served
- Defense answers
- Depositions and interrogatories
- Pretrial mediation
- Settle or trial
The doorbell rings…
You open the door and standing there is a law enforcement officer with lawsuit papers. You have officially been served. Unsettling? Of course. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not.
If you have been served, you should report the lawsuit to us right away. Your WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company policy is meant to protect your family’s finances, up to your policy limit, in the event you may be legally liable for damages caused in an accident.
After you notify us, we determine if you have coverage under your policy with us. We then refer the lawsuit to a reputable, experienced law firm. This law firm will represent you in the suit. We work closely with the law firm as they handle the defense of your case.
Most cases are settled before trial. However, we administer the case as if it will go to trial so we are ready to fully defend you in that event.
How your case proceeds
Answering the complaint
To protect your interests, the defense attorney files an “answer,” or response, to the plaintiff’s lawsuit.
During discovery, we obtain all the information we can about the plaintiff’s case. We also ask you to complete questionnaires, produce documents that relate to the case, or come in for an interview called an “oral deposition.”
Interrogatories are written questions used to obtain information that may be helpful in preparing the case. Either party may request them. If you receive interrogatories, your defense attorney will be available to assist you.
A deposition is a question and answer proceeding conducted under oath. All parties to the lawsuit and their attorneys have the right to be present during a deposition. Attorneys ask the questions, and the questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter. Depositions typically take place in the office of either the defense or plaintiff attorney. The purpose of depositions is to explore the facts of the accident and obtain additional information important to the case. Your defense attorney will meet with you before the deposition so you are prepared.
Final trial preparation
At this point, the case is ready for settlement or trial. If it does not settle, we will notify you of the trial date. The defense attorney will review the case with you before the trial and advise you of what to expect.
The entire process may take a year or more. In fact, it is common for a case to take several years before it is resolved. This is due to scheduling issues with attorneys, other parties, expert witnesses, and busy court calendars.
Helping us help you
Here are some suggestions that will help us prepare your case.
- Do not discuss the details of the suit with anyone other than a representative of our company or the law firm we hire to defend you.
- Be sure that anything you say during questioning is correct. If you don’t remember a detail, say so. Never guess or speculate.
- Notify us if you change your address or are leaving town for any length of time.
Your attorneys keep you advised of all developments in your case; however, feel free to call us with your questions.
We will defend you to the full extent of your policy limits. Contact our claims department for further information about lawsuits.
The entire process may take a significant amount of time.
The litigation process
Lawsuit filed and served—A law enforcement official serves you and us with the plaintiff’s lawsuit.
Assignment to law firm—We assign the case to a law firm to defend the case on your behalf up to your policy limit. In cases that may exceed your policy limit, you may choose to hire your own attorney.
Answering the complaint—The law firm provides a formal answer to the complaint within 45 days of the date of service on you and/or us.
Discovery proceedings—Discovery involves written interrogatories and interviews (depositions). Depositions may involve the plaintiff, defendant, investigating law enforcement officers, and expert witnesses such as medical doctors, accountants, accident reconstruction experts, and engineers. In addition, independent medical examinations (IMEs) are often scheduled for persons claiming injuries.
Negotiation—Negotiations usually take place as we obtain information, during the discovery process, and after the attorneys involved have had a chance to evaluate the case.
Mediation—Often the parties meet together for a mediation, administered by a neutral party, to try and resolve the case as an alternative to a trial. Many times this face-to-face meeting helps settle the case.
Trial—Going to trial is the last resort. When the parties cannot agree, the case proceeds to trial. You may be asked to testify, along with other parties that have given written or oral testimony. Sometimes cases will settle after the trial has begun, but prior to a verdict.
WMBT 3076-290-0417 (W)