The biggest question that clients ask me about filing a lawsuit in Ohio is this: “How long does it take to get to trial?”
In this article, we’ll discuss the process of filing a lawsuit in Ohio and what to expect.
Jumping Over Hurdles
First, clients need to jump over several hurdles before their case can be ready for trial. The first part of the litigation process is the filing of the Complaint. The Complaint includes all of the client’s claims that we allege against the negligent driver and all of the insurance companies involved.
A lot of clients do not know that in a personal injury case their health insurance and auto insurance have a right to recover any medical bills that they paid on the client’s behalf. Upon the conclusion of a personal injury case, the injured person is responsible to pay back health or auto insurance carriers for any medical bills paid (even though premiums have been paid for this coverage). This is called a subrogation claim. Because of the auto and health insurance carriers’ rights to recoup this money, we typically join our client’s auto and health insurance carriers in the lawsuit so that these carriers are involved and typically are more willing to negotiate with us when we are ready to settle a client’s personal injury claim.
Complaint & Summons
After we have filed the lawsuit, the Clerk of Court will serve the Defendants with a copy of the Complaint and Summons. Once they receive the Complaint and Summons, they have 28 days from the date they are served with the Complaint to file an Answer. Typically, the negligent driver provides their insurance company with a copy of the Complaint and their insurance company hires a lawyer to defend them.
Once all of the Defendants have entered an appearance and filed an Answer to our Complaint, we begin a process that is called Discovery. The Discovery process involves serving opposing counsel with a written set of questions to gather more information about the claim (called Interrogatories) as well as serving opposing counsel with a request for documentation called a Request for Production of Documents.
Counsel for the negligent driver also serves the injured person with these Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. We assist our clients with answering all of these questions and produce all of the documents requested. The written Discovery process takes about 2 to 3 months to complete from the date the lawsuit was filed.
After the written Discovery process is completed, the next hurdle involves scheduling the sworn testimony of the negligent driver, our client’s sworn testimony, and the sworn testimony of any eyewitnesses. This testimony is usually completed at an attorney’s office. We typically complete all of the deposition testimony on the same day.
Once the written Discovery and Depositions are completed, which usually takes about 6 to 8 months after the filing of the lawsuit, we always schedule our cases for a Mediation before a private Mediator or a Judge or Magistrate of the Court.
Mediation is an alternative method that lawyers use to resolve personal injury cases. Most of our Mediators are private attorneys that are experienced in facilitating negotiations between the Parties. The Mediator facilitates negotiations between both sides in an effort to resolve the personal injury case. About 95% of our cases settle at Mediation.
Preparing for Trial
In the event the case does not settle, then we prepare our client thoroughly for trial. We have several discussions with our clients regarding witnesses that we will use, the evidence we will put on, and the amount of money we will ask from a jury.
The key to trial preparation is to ensure that our client is thoroughly prepared for testimony and thoroughly understands the themes that we will use at trial, the witnesses that we will use, and all of the exhibits that we will submit to the jury.
Thinking About Filing a Lawsuit in Ohio?
Contact our firm to discuss your options. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.