Many people who contemplate bringing an accident and injury lawsuit in Philadelphia often want to know what is involved in the process, how long the case will take and what the eventual outcome will be. Accident and injury lawsuits in Philadelphia are often resolved short of a trial. Only a small percentage of cases will actually be tried. In fact, most cases will be resolved by way of a settlement or private resolution, such as an arbitration or mediation.
However, because each case is unique, there is no way to know exactly how a case will eventually pan out. The following explains the process of an accident and injury case in Philadelphia and explains the steps before resolution.
1. Settlement Conference
Philadelphia courts will require a settlement conference at the end of the discovery phase, before trial. Learn more about the discovery phase in a Philadelphia accident and injury lawsuit. The settlement conference occurs after all discovery is complete. Therefore, at this point the parties will have a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases.
Philadelphia local court procedure requires that an exhaustive settlement memorandum be filed with the court. Both sides are required to file this document. The settlement memo will explain to the court the theory of the case, the theory of liability, and the damages suffered by the plaintiff.
The settlement conference will be in front of a special settlement master, not an actual judge. The settlement master is usually an attorney with many years of experience who will try to get the parties to agree on a settlement.
2. Pre-Trial Hearing
In the event the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the next stage in the case is the pretrial hearing, where a trial month will be set. Because of the high volume of cases in Philadelphia, trial dates are not actually set. Instead, the parties are given a trial pool month during which they could be called on any day to begin trial the next day. For example, during the designated trial pool month, the attorneys may get a call from the court on a Friday notifying them that they will begin trial the following Monday.
Like with the settlement conference, the parties will be required to file a pretrial memo which lists all evidence the party intends to present at trial, including an exhaustive list of all potential witnesses. In an accident case, this means every piece of paper, photograph, and every single witness must be listed. Preparing this document requires that the attorney have a complete understanding of the case. At the pretrial hearing, and depending on who the judge is, the parties may again attempt to settle the case. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement at that point, all of the dates for trial will be set, including deadlines for specific pretrial motions.
- Investigation of Accident & Injury Lawsuits in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Filing an Accident or Injury Lawsuit in Philadelphia – What to Expect (Part 1)
3. Trial or Private Resolution
At any time, the parties may agree to resolve the case by way of a private arbitration or mediation, which are cost effective alternatives to trial. An arbitration is an abbreviated presentation of the case in front of an arbitrator, someone hired by the parties to decide the case. Mediation is simply a meeting with a mediator, someone the parties hire to help negotiate a settlement. If there is no private resolution, or if a private resolution fails, the case will proceed to trial.
Philadelphia Injury & Accident Lawyer
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Schwartz & Blackman handles accident cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:
- PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
- NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities
*This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is important to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.