Your clients have no idea what a lawsuit involves. Your clients don’t know what to expect or what they will have to do. A lawsuit can be downright scary for your clients, but it doesn’t have to be.
Once you’ve accepted a new case for litigation, explain the process completely to your clients and eliminate all confusion. Show your clients what’s going to happen and anything else that might reduce stress and anxiety. Provide photos and video of your office and a few photos and testimonials from happy clients. Your detailed explanation of the process, and what you expect from them, will ease their concerns.
“Make trust the foundation of your marketing.”
–Lee Rosen, Esq.
By explaining the process of a lawsuit at the outset of the representation, you will have an educated client and you won’t have to repeat this process with every new client. This will save you time and build trust with new clients. This is the introductory letter that explains the processes of a lawsuit and what we expect from our clients.
What You Can Expect During Your Lawsuit
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. We realize that there are many lawyers you could have chosen and we are grateful that you chose to work with us.
We take this responsibility seriously and will do our best to get justice for you. We will take this opportunity to explain the process of a lawsuit and what will be expected of you. We recommend that you keep this document and review over again as a reminder of your responsibilities and our expectations.
Our 3 Promises for You
We are a highly selective law firm that only handles catastrophic injury cases. There are no guarantees in any lawsuit, but we will do our best to live up to the following 3 promises:
#1: We Can Never Promise a Result
We need to make one thing very clear: we can never promise a result. In even the most blatant cases of malpractice (i.e., surgical instrument left in the patient’s body during surgery), the defendants will deny everything and attempt to blame the patient for the bad outcome.
You should not expect the case to be resolved before trial, as that is the exception. We will do our best to deliver justice for you, but we can never guarantee the outcome.
#2: We Cannot Do This Without Your Help
While we will handle the legal work, we cannot do this without your help. The defendants will test your resolve and commitment and if they sense that you are not committed to going to trial, they will try to use this against you. In terms of your cooperation and commitment, we will need your help.
You can help by staying in contact with us. When you have a medical appointment, send an email to our paralegal, Corina Skidmore (firstname.lastname@example.org), with the following:
- Name of the doctor/hospital,
- Date of treatment, and
- Purpose of the medical treatment, i.e., “removal of sutures following surgery”.
We must provide updated medical records to defendants’ lawyers. We cannot do our job, if we are unaware of your new medical treatment. Even if you have not had any new medical treatment, we should stay in contact at least once every 4-6 weeks.
Use common sense when posting on Facebook, Instagram, etc. The defense lawyers will be monitoring your publicly accessible social media profiles and looking for information to use against you. If you have any question, please contact Corina Skidmore.
If your case involves a loss of earnings, please provide us with the W-2 statements, income tax returns, and employment records for the past five (5) years. Our economic expert will need these records and we must disclose them to defense counsel.
#3: We Will Do Our Very Best for You
While we are far from perfect, we can promise one thing: we will do our very best for you. While some of our cases settle, we never plan for settlement. We plan that every case will be tried before a jury and the jury will render a verdict. You will get everything we’ve got in terms of our effort and preparation.
If you have any questions, concerns or complaints, call our paralegal, Corina Skidmore at 845-802-0047) or send an email to Corina at email@example.com) and she will answer your questions. If you prefer to meet or speak with John Fisher, Corina will schedule an appointment for you.
The 5 Phases of Your Lawsuit
This provides an overview of the procedures that are involved in a lawsuit. The duration of lawsuits in some counties faster than others, but regardless of the venue (i.e., county) of your lawsuit, we will strive to get your case to trial as quickly as possible. Our #1 priority is to get a trial date for your case because with rare exception, you will not get a resolution of your case until trial.
The person(s) bringing the claim is the “plaintiff” (you), and the person(s) defending the claim are the “defendant” (doctor/hospital).
Phase #1: Filing of the Lawsuit
A lawsuit begins with the filing of a Summons and Complaint in the county clerk’s office. The Summons and Complaint are filed in the county where you reside, or in some cases, the county where the defendant(s) resides or has a primary place of business.
Following the filing of the lawsuit, the Summons and Complaint are hand-delivered (a/k/a “personally served”) upon the defendants and the defendants must serve a legal document known as an “Answer” within twenty (20) to thirty (30) days. The “Answer” is the formal appearance in the lawsuit by the defendants.
Phase #2: Exchange of Discovery Demands and Responses
Together with the “Answer”, the defendants will serve written requests for information about the plaintiff’s allegations of negligence, injuries and losses. We will prepare written responses to the defendants’ Discovery Demands (known as the plaintiff’s Discovery Responses and Verified Bill of Particulars) and serve them upon the defendants’ lawyers.
The plaintiff’s Verified Bill of Particulars is the document that explains the nature of the plaintiff’s allegations regarding the defendants’ negligence and lists the physical injuries and losses. Once this document has been prepared, you will receive a copy of the plaintiff’s Verified Bill of Particulars. Please review the Verified Bill of Particulars and let us know if any of the information is incorrect.
Together with the service of the plaintiff’s Discovery Responses and Verified Bill of Particulars, we will serve Discovery Demands upon the defendants’ lawyers. The plaintiff’s Discovery Demands request information about the defendants’ defenses (a/k/a defendants’ “affirmative defenses”), and require the production of the written policies and procedures of the doctor/hospital and a certified copy of the original medical record.
An “affirmative defense” is the defendants’ excuse for failing to comply with the standard of care and the most common “affirmative defense” is that the patient failed to follow medical advice. Within thirty (30) days, the defendants’ lawyers must serve Discovery Responses upon us.
Phase #3: Depositions
Deposition consists of testimony under oath that is given in response to verbal questions by an attorney. Typically, depositions are conducted at a lawyer’s office before a stenographer. Following the exchange of Discovery Demands and Discovery Responses, the plaintiff is deposed by the defense lawyers, and the defendants are deposed following the plaintiff’s deposition. You have the right to be present at all of the depositions, if you wish.
You should not wear casual attire, i.e., jeans and t-shirt, to your deposition. You should dress conservatively for your deposition; men should wear dress slacks and a collared shirt (you do not need to wear a tie) and women should wear a pant suit or dress.
You will be provided with a copy of the plaintiff’s Verified Bill of Particulars before the deposition. You should review the Verified Bill of Particulars as a reminder of your medical treatment, injuries and the allegations of negligence.
John Fisher will meet with you roughly one week before the deposition to help you prepare. At your deposition, the defense lawyers will ask questions of three major areas:
- Your background (i.e., family, employment, health/medical background etc.),
- Medical treatment by the defendants, and
- Damages/physical injuries and losses.
Most importantly, do not exaggerate or lie at your deposition. A lie under oath can destroy your case!
After the deposition, you will be provided with a copy of the transcript of your deposition that contains the questions and answers. You should review the deposition transcript and if necessary, you can make changes to your testimony on a correction sheet known as an “errata sheet”. After reviewing the deposition transcript, you should sign it where indicated and return it to us.
In some cases, the defendants will have the right to conduct a Defense Medical Examination (“DME”). During the Defense Medical Examination, a physician selected by the defendants will conduct a physical examination of you. Corina Skidmore will be present with you throughout the Defense Medical Examination in order to ensure that the defense doctor does not ask inappropriate questions.
The defendants will often conduct surveillance video of you, particularly in the office where the Defense Medical Examination is conducted. You may be videotaped, without your knowledge, from the moment you step into the defense doctor’s office and parking lot.
Phase #4: Scheduling & Preparation for Trial
Following the depositions, we will file a document with the court known as the “Note of Issue” that certifies that discovery is complete and requesting a trial date. The Judge will schedule a Court conference and at the conference, we will request the earliest available trial date. Once the trial date has been scheduled, you will be notified by us. Most trials last from 1-2 weeks, but just to be safe, you should plan that the trial will last two weeks.
Adjournments and delays are the enemy and for this reason, we will NEVER adjourn a trial date. The defendants will often seek to adjourn a trial date for a multiple of bogus reasons, and an adjournment of the trial date can postpone your trial a year or more. For this reason, you should never consent to the defendants’ request for an adjournment of the trial date.
You may know of persons, i.e., friends, family or employers, who can describe what you were like before and after your injuries (a/k/a “before and after” damages witness) and if so, please send an email to Corina Skidmore (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the name, address and phone number of the potential witnesses. “Before and After” lay witnesses can provide powerful testimony at your trial. John Fisher will meet with the potential witnesses; we must notify defendants’ counsel of the potential witnesses as soon as possible.
Phase #5: The Trial
John Fisher will meet with you to prepare for your trial testimony. Your direct examination and the anticipated cross-examination will be discussed at this meeting.
To prepare for your trial testimony, you should review your deposition transcript. You should study your deposition testimony so that your trial testimony is almost word-for-word identical to the deposition testimony. If your testimony at trial is different—even in a slight way—from your deposition testimony, the defense lawyer will point out the inconsistency during cross examination at trial.
It is always good to have family members and friends in the spectator gallery of the courtroom during trial. You should contact family members, friend and co-workers to ask them to be present for at least part of the trial. The presence of family members and friends at trial shows the jurors that your case is important and will impact many people.
From the moment that you walk to the courthouse, the jurors are watching you and making observations. You should never smoke outside the courthouse, or engage in joking or horseplay.
The first day of the trial will be jury selection. During jury selection, we get to ask questions of the prospective jurors to determine which jurors will be selected for your jury. The jury will consist of eight (8) persons; at the end of the trial, two (2) alternate jurors will be excused and the remaining six (6) jurors will deliberate until they reach a verdict. The verdict must be agreed upon by five out of the six jurors (the verdict does not have to be unanimous).
During jury selection, you have the right to excuse up to four (4) prospective jurors for any reason (other than race)—this is known as a “peremptory challenge”. Pay close attention during jury selection and if you have a bad feeling about a prospective juror, let us know so we can remove the person from the jury with a peremptory challenge.
Our Commitment for You
We will do our very best for you and we appreciate this opportunity. We are committed to “Stopping Medical Injustice” for you.
Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions—not only today—but at any time during your lawsuit. Please post this agreement in a prominent location in your home and review it from time to time as a reminder of your rights and responsibilities.
As a symbol of our commitment to you, John Fisher signed this agreement and initialed every page, and we ask that you sign two original copies of this agreement. Please return one original of the agreement to Corina Skidmore, and keep the other original for your records.
John H. Fisher