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The Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit

A car accident can set you on a long road of physical and emotional recovery. Additionally, missed days of work, long-term medical bills, and overall economic loss can place tremendous strain on you and your family. Post car accident, sometimes the focus on physical and emotional recovery means overlooking financial recovery because victims believe insurance companies will fairly compensate them.

Insurance companies are in the business of making money - not fairly paying out injured victims.

Working with an experienced car accident attorney can help you focus on healing because you can trust a professional to fiercely advocate for you with the insurance companies. Statistics show that, on average, accident victims who work with attorneys are paid 3.5x more in their personal injury cases than those without legal representation. Ensuring you have highly experienced legal representation can make all the difference and give you peace of mind in your physical, financial, and emotional recovery.

Focus On Your Healing - Leave The Lawsuit to Proven Attorneys

Finding an attorney and understanding the lawsuit process can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first lawsuit and unfamiliar with the stages and procedures.

This article outlines the three main stages of a car accident lawsuit so that you know what to expect from start to finish.

At Bostwick & Peterson, we pride ourselves on superior communication with every client - every step of the way. You will never be left in the dark or have any questions go unanswered.

The 3 Stages Of A Car Accident Lawsuit

  1. Pre-Litigation: This stage is about building your car accident case with facts and evidence, as well as starting negotiations with the insurance company.
  2. Litigation: Next, if needed, we will file the lawsuit and enter mediation and settlement negotiations.
  3. Trial And Appeal: Most cases end in settlement, but we will present your case to a judge and jury if needed.


In this stage, your car accident attorney and team of investigative experts will collect facts and documents that support your allegations to create a successful claim. This stage will include:

  • Evaluation Meeting: You will meet with your car accident lawyer to discuss the details of your case. A good lawyer will ask many questions and do not be afraid to ask your own.
  • Documentation: To calculate damages, your attorney will ask for medical history, bills, and records. They may also need copies of police reports, evaluations of all vehicles involved, the negligent party’s driving and phone records, and so forth. This will all help calculate the total damages and compensation. The compensation amount may include lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, loss of quality of life, suffering, and so forth.
  • Consultation With Experts: Experienced firms have strong networks of experts to rely on for specific matters. Some of the people may include mechanics, engineers, accident reconstruction experts, physicians and medical specialists, and economists.
  • Negotiate With the Insurance Companies: Your attorney will conduct intense negotiations with insurance adjusters. Sometimes an agreement can be made without filing a lawsuit. If the insurance companies refuse a fair settlement, your case will move forward to a lawsuit.


In this stage, your car accident lawyer will formally file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties, and the court becomes involved. Settlement negotiations will continue; however, your lawyer will also follow the court’s procedural rules and prepare for trial.

This stage will include:

  • Filing A Lawsuit: This involves providing the court with a written complaint and other paperwork, as well as serving paper to the at-fault party. Just one mistake can result in lost compensation or even dismissal of the case. Therefore, it is vital to find an attorney with a proven track record to fight for your case.
  • Discovery: This is the formal process where all parties to a lawsuit have the legal right to share documents, evidence, and other information relating to the case. The defendant may request you to answer a written series of questions called interrogatories.
  • Deposition Testimony: This is the formal process of taking testimonies. Depositions are statements taken under oath, and a court reporter will transcribe every word spoken on the record. People that may be asked to give a deposition include police officers, witnesses including yourself, and any experts who consult on your case.
  • Mediation: In mediation, both parties negotiate with the help of a trained and neutral party - the mediator. The goal is to find common ground and agree on a settlement amount. Since trial involves a high level of risk and juries may surprise you, most car accident injury attorneys try to settle cases out of court and through mediation.

Trial and Appeal

While most cases are resolved before reaching the trial stage, sometimes attorneys take cases to court to try and get the maximum compensation for their clients.

This stage will include:

  • Trial Court: Most likely, this will be a jury trial; a group of peers will listen to each side’s arguments and review their evidence. The jury may take a few days, weeks, or even longer to issue a verdict. If the jury rules in your favor, then the trial is over. If the jury does not rule in your favor and you believe an error was made, you and your attorney may be able to file an appeal.
  • Court of Appeals: An appeal is a procedural request that a higher court reviews your case. Filing an appeal is only appropriate if the court makes a significant error. If you lose the first appeal, you may file with California (or your state’s) Supreme Court, but they can reject your appeal. Keep in mind that the appeals process can take years to complete because it is highly complex and involves a lot of different outcomes and risks.

Why Choose Bostwick & Peterson?

Led by James S. Bostwick and Erik L. Peterson, we have secured over $1,000,000,000 in compensation for our clients, as well as record-setting results in several states. Victims and their families turn to us for experience, personal approach, service, and awards. We are part of The Inner Circle of Advocates (only the top 100 plaintiff trial lawyers), named among The Best Lawyers in America©, and have received numerous other recognitions that you can read about here.

Working with skilled legal representation is critical if you or your loved one were harmed in a car accident.

To learn more about the stages of a car accident lawsuit through the eyes of a client’s experience, check out our reviews page.

Contact us for a free and confidential consultation. Please call us at (888) 831-8448 or fill out this online form to get started.