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Civil Lawsuits in Personal Injury Cases

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Outline of a Personal Injury Case

No two personal injury cases are alike, but most cases follow a similar path through litigation, including the following:

Complaint Filing and Service

Every case begins with the filing of a complaint with the court.  After the complaint is filed, it must be properly served on the defendant(s).

Response To Complaint

The defendant(s) usually have 30 days after service of the complaint to file an answer to the complaint, or to file a challenge to the sufficiency of the complaint.


Once the Complaint and Answer have been filed, both parties commence “discovery” to exchange evidence. Depending on the case, one or more of the following may be used by the parties:

  • Interrogatories: written questions which parties must answer in writing, under oath.
  • Demands For Production Of Documents:  formal requests for documents.
  • Requests For Admission: require the parties to say which allegations they affirm, and which they deny, and why.
  • Subpoenas For Documents: used to get documents from third parties, such as doctors, employers, and insurers.
  • Depositions: people are required to appear in person to answer questions under oath in front of a court reporter, who produces a transcript.
  • Defense Medical Exam: The plaintiff is examined by a doctor hired by the defense, who provides a report to all parties.

Trial Setting

The court will hold Case Management Conferences to determine when the case will be ready for trial. When the court concludes that a case will be ready for trial, it will set the trial date and various related deadlines concerning completion of discovery, mediation, and trial preparation.

Settlement Negotiations

Settlement negotiations can occur any time during the litigation.  The attorneys can discuss settlement on the phone, by email, by letter, etc.  Often the court will require the parties to participate in mediation, which is a settlement conference in a private setting, not in court.  Sometimes the court will set a “Mandatory Settlement Conference”, which is a settlement conference before a judge in the courthouse.

Settlement negotiations generally become more meaningful as the trial date approaches.  Only then are both sides’ “”cards on the table,” and both sides can fully assess their risks and weigh them against the potential benefits of trial.


The vast majority of cases settle before trial, once the hard work of preparation is done.  However, if the parties cannot settle the case, trial is available to resolve the case.


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Brown, Brown & Brown
Personal Injury Attorneys
23326 Hawthorne Blvd.
Suite 380
Torrance, CA 90505

Phone: 310-378-3733

Personal Injury Lawyers