Stages of Litigation

Information from Our Maritime Lawyers

Picture of a man holding a question markThe maritime attorneys at Latti & Anderson LLP are here to help clients through every step of the litigation process. The stages of a maritime injury lawsuit are described here to help those injured on the water understand the steps involved in maritime litigation. In the order that they occur, the stages of litigation are:

  1. THE INJURY OR DEATH.
  2. HIRING OF ATTORNEY. Hiring a maritime attorney is the first thing a person should do after a maritime injury or accident after seeking medical attention.
  3. COMPLAINT. The legal document which sets forth the claims and legal basis of a lawsuit/civil action. A lawsuit is commenced with filing of a Complaint.
  4. ANSWER. The sued party’s written response to the Complaint.
  5. SCHEDULING CONFERENCE. A meeting with the Court where the case is filed to set forth a schedule/deadlines for depositions, discovery, pre-trial conference and trial.
  6. DISCOVERY. The time period in a case where each party gathers information and evidence to support their claims and defenses in a case. Tools such as the following  are used to obtain  and gather information:
    • Depositions – Occur during the discovery phase of a lawsuit when an attorney asks a party or a witness a variety of questions on a number of topics under oath. The person being questioned, called the deponent, can be anyone from Plaintiff, Defendant, accident witness or medical provider. The process is recorded by a court reporter, who will produce a written transcript of the proceeding. No judge is present during the proceeding.
    • Interrogatories – A legal document that asks questions of a party to find out relevant information; it is signed under oath and must be answered within a certain time period. The questions generally provide background information and are related to the injury, claims and/or lawsuit. The amount of interrogatory questions asked depends on which court and what state the lawsuit is in.
    • Request for Production of Documents – A legal document that seeks documents or electronically stored information that is relevant and pertains to the injury, claims, defenses and/or lawsuit.
    • Inspection – Request to examine, inspect and/or test an area involved, equipment, a vessel and any other physical item involved in an accident or claim.
    • Subpoena – An order compelling a witness to appear for a deposition or at trial to give testimony. It is generally served upon a person with any relevant knowledge regarding the lawsuit or injury. If a party fails to appear after receiving a subpoena, then he/she can be held in contempt of court.
    • Subpoena duces tecum – An order compelling a witness or corporation to hand over certain documents requested.
    • Request for Medical Examination or IME-“independent medical examination” – When a doctor hired by the Defendant’s insurance company examines a Plaintiff to determine diagnosis, cause of injury, extent of injury and status of condition and future treatment and whether at maximum medical improvement. The doctor is not neutral and represents the interests of the Defendant and the insurance company.
  7. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION. An alternative dispute resolution means to resolve a case other than a trial through mediation and/or arbitration.
  8. TRIAL. The proceeding to hear all the evidence and in which the judge or jury will decide legal issues and claims. This is when all the evidence that the attorneys gathered through the discovery phase is presented to a jury or judge and a verdict is reached.