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What to Expect During the Litigation Process

The litigation process can seem daunting – it is both complex and unfamiliar to most people. While the goal is to successfully resolve the plaintiff’s matter either by settlement or a win at trial, it is important to know what to expect throughout the process. The litigation process takes time! Your lawyer should explain the steps and provide you with a road map of what you can expect and what is expected of you at the outset.

Initial Client Meeting

This is the first opportunity to gather information and investigate the particulars of your case. We will work with you to determine who is responsible for your injuries, the extent of your injuries, and what benefits you may be entitled to.

Pleadings

A Statement of Claim sets out what happened, who is responsible, how you were injured, and the relief sought to compensate you for your losses. By issuing the Statement of Claim, your personal injury action is formally commenced. The Statement of Claim is filed with the court and served on the Defendant(s).

Once the claim is served, the Defendant(s) will respond with a Statement of Defence. The Statement of Defence will set out the statements and allegations, contained in the Statement of Claim, with which the Defendant agrees, does not agree, or has no knowledge of. The Statement of Defence may also contain allegations against the Plaintiff. In Ontario, the Limitations Actprovides that in most circumstances you must commence your action within two years from the date of the accident or event causing injury.

Discovery Stage

In the initial stages of an action, the Plaintiff and Defendant(s) may not have all of the information required to support their position. The discovery process provides an opportunity for the parties to exchange all documents that are relevant to your personal injury matter. Your lawyer should discuss any concerning findings with you.

Oral Examination

Oral examinations, called an Examination for Discovery or most well known as Depositions, are an opportunity for lawyers to ask opposing parties questions about the relevant issues. The answers to these questions will be recorded for use at trial. Oral examinations can be an intimidating process. We will work with you to ensure you are well prepared and will attend with you to ensure you do not provide answers to inappropriate or objectionable questions.

Mediation

Mediations are designed to facilitate a discussion of the issues surrounding your matter and hopefully settlement. Mediations are conducted with the goal of settlement, rather than proceeding to trial. The Mediator is a neutral, third party, who will work to bring the parties together with a view to settlement.

Pre-trial Stage

If your matter does not resolve at the mediation, the next step is to attend a pre-trial with a judge who will provide his or her opinion on what the likely outcome will be if the action proceeds to trial. If your matter does not settle, the next step would be to pursue the action at trial.

Do you or someone you know need legal representation? We are here to help. Please contact Louis DelSignore today.

This post was written by Lawyer Louis DelSignore and Articling Student Andrea Levstik.

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