Phase 1 of the litigation process

by Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer David M. Chester

Occasionally, personal injury claims cannot be resolved without having to resort to litigation. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, but most commonly it’s simply because the insurance company is not willing to make a fair settlement offer for your injuries. The litigation process is complex and time consuming. However, it is sometimes necessary to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. The litigation process can be broken down into several phases: filing the complaint, discovery, the pre-trial phase, and trial. Below is a brief overview of the complaint phase.

The Complaint:

A complaint is a legal document that makes allegations against the defendants and a request for payment for damages. A complaint must contain an introduction establishing proper jurisdiction and venue, a statement of facts indicating liability, the legal basis for liability, and a request for damages (known as a prayer for relief).

The filing of a complaint begins the litigation process. After the complaint is filed, the plaintiff is required to serve a copy of the complaint along with a “summons” on each defendant. A summons is a legal document from the court that notifies each defendant that they have been named in the lawsuit and are required to appear in court.

Answer of the Complaint:

After a defendant has been properly served, they have 28 days in Ohio to file an answer to the complaint (in reality, defendants often ask for and are granted extensions which affords them more time to answer).

The answer is a legal document that responds to the allegations set forth in the complaint, in addition to setting forth any legal defenses.

Defendants can also make a “counterclaim” which is basically a complaint against the plaintiff. This typically occurs in personal injury claims when the plaintiff was partially at fault for causing their own injuries, or comparatively negligent.

In such a case, both parties share in paying for the damages sustained by the plaintiff, as long as the plaintiff is not found to be more than 50% at fault.

If the defendant is hard to find or is granted extensions to answer the complaint, you can see that this part can take several months to be completed.

David M. Chester is the founder of Chester Law Group Co. LPA which has 16 offices across the state of Ohio.