In a personal injury case, litigation refers to the process of taking legal action. Litigation encompasses a few different procedures required to resolve a lawsuit: the discovery phase, filing motions, hiring expert witnesses, hearings, and the personal injury trial. Litigation is not the same as the lawsuit. The lawsuit is the civil dispute between the victim and the at-fault party, while litigation refers to the processes the lawsuit goes through after the victim files.
Litigation is not necessary in most personal injury cases. The vast majority of civil cases reach successful resolutions without going to court. Pre-trial proceedings are faster and cheaper than taking a case to trial. Most personal injury lawyers can negotiate satisfactory settlements between plaintiffs and defendants. A settlement will resolve a personal injury case outside of the courtroom, during meetings or mediation with both parties, their legal representatives, and a third-party judge. It is not always necessary, therefore, to hire a litigator.
A litigator, or trial attorney, represents the accident victim or defendant in a civil lawsuit. Litigators handle all processes involved in taking legal action. This includes pre-trial phases such as investigation and discovery to the trial and appeals processes. Litigators protect their clients’ rights and remove the burden of legal action from their shoulders. Instead of the plaintiff or defendant handling the claim alone, they trust litigators to navigate the legal process according to the client’s best interests.
If you hire a litigator to represent you during litigation, you typically will not have to deal with any legal actions yourself. Your litigator will investigate the accident, gather evidence, hire experts, interview eyewitnesses, and build a case on your behalf. Your litigator will also walk you through the discovery phase and pre-trial procedures. These may include jury selection, requests to admit or exclude evidence, motions to dismiss or other motions, and depositions. Depositions are questions from each side to get more information about a case.
All litigators are lawyers, but not all lawyers are litigators. Litigators are attorneys with licenses to practice law – unlike someone such as a paralegal, who cannot represent clients or give legal counsel. Litigators are attorneys that specialize in representing clients during lawsuits as they have trial law experience and knowledge. They take care of litigation that occurs both outside and inside the courtroom. Litigators have the power to take a personal injury claim to court, if necessary for full compensation for the client.
Although litigators can take claims to court, most cases do not go to trial. Most litigators do not try the majority of their cases. Lawyers who are not litigators, on the other hand, may not have the ability to go to trial. Non-litigating lawyers represent clients during settlement negotiations with insurance companies, before a case goes to trial. Lawyers do not have the same courtroom specialization as litigators. Lawyers may refer their cases to litigators if the cases have to go to trial.
The answer depends on the case. As a general rule, litigation takes longer than settling a civil lawsuit out of court. The average length for a trial is a minimum of one year. Many cases last closer to two years, while others take five years or longer. The exact timeline will vary according to the facts of the case, the outcome, and whether the losing party decides to appeal the judge’s initial decision. Litigators may be able to estimate the length of legal processes, but they cannot guarantee a resolution within a certain period, as the length of a lawsuit can be unpredictable. Your lawyer will do everything he or she can to successfully resolve your case as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.