When attorneys talk about personal injury cases and the law firms that handle them, you’ll sometimes hear the terms “pre-litigation” and “litigation.”
But what do these two terms mean? Let’s keep things simple. An easy way to think of pre litigation vs litigation is this: pre-litigation means “before I file a lawsuit” and litigation means “after I file a lawsuit.”
Pre-Litigation and Litigation Law Firms
If you are choosing a personal injury law firm to take on your case, it’s especially important to know the difference between these two terms. Here’s why:
- There are law firms that handle just pre-litigation work. They will manage a case up to the point when a lawsuit is filed. As a case progresses and it becomes evident that a lawsuit must be filed, a pre-litigation law firm will typically hand-off your case to another law firm that handles litigation.
- There are law firms that specialize solely in litigation work: taking cases to trial.
- There are law firms that handle both pre-litigation work and litigation work. Negretti & Associates is this type of law firm.
What is the difference between pre-litigation and litigation? You can describe the two simply, as follows: pre-litigation is a case before filing a lawsuit and litigation is when a lawsuit has been filed. Here, Jonathan Negretti explains why it’s important to understand the difference between the two and why Negretti & Associates handles both types of cases, from start to resolution.
Why Negretti & Associates Handles Pre-Litigation and Litigation Cases
At Negretti & Associates, we’re situated somewhere in the middle between being a pre-litigation firm and litigation firm. That’s because we handle cases from start to finish — or “from start to resolution,” as we call it. In other words, from the first day a client hires us until the case resolves, whether that’s through a settlement or through a jury trial, we handle cases every step of the way. We won’t hand you off to anybody else.
I say describe our law firm as being somewhere “in the middle” because we have become more litigation-focused in the last few years. We’ve realized that we can be a great benefit to our clients this way. So, we’re filing more lawsuits and taking more cases to arbitration. As a result, I think we’re getting get better results from the people we’re suing. Typically, those people are represented by insurance companies — the organizations from which money is being collected.
Before You File a Lawsuit: Working Toward a Settlement
Before you file a lawsuit, you should keep in mind that you have a deadline to do so. The legal term for this is the” Your deadline for filing a lawsuit depends on the state where your accident happened.
Negretti & Associates has offices in Arizona (in Phoenix), Colorado (in Denver), and California (in San Diego). Each of these three states has different rules for how long you have to file your lawsuit following the date of the accident. If you don’t file, you lose the right to your claim.
Let’s say that you had an auto accident in Arizona, where you have two years from the date of your auto accident to file your lawsuit. If you don’t file, you lose the right to pursue your claim any further.
Before you file your lawsuit, you’re working toward getting better, getting the medical treatment you need, and hopefully getting back to the way you felt before the accident.
If all of this happens in a period of time that’s less than two years from the time of your accident, Negretti & Associates will collect all of the information related to your case — including lost wages and your pain and suffering — and we’ll assemble what’s called a demand package. We’ll send the demand package to the insurance company and try to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
If we agree, as a team (we think of our clients as part of our team), that we have reached a fair resolution to your case, then the case gets settled, and you never have to file a lawsuit.
After You File a Lawsuit
In the event that you haven’t achieved a fair settlement through pre-litigation, then we have to consider the reality of filing a lawsuit.
Once you file a lawsuit, you engage the courts. You open the door to having a third party involved in your case. Things change.
- Before you file a lawsuit, it’s really just you and the defendants who are represented by their insurance company.
- After you file a lawsuit, it’s you, the defendant, the judge that oversees your case, and the jury that eventually will hear the trial.
Once you get into litigation, you have a different dynamic, because of the way the court system works. You also have deadlines, pursuant to court rules, that you have to abide by. Those same deadlines aren’t necessarily applicable to you before you file a lawsuit — absent the one big deadline, that you have two years to file the lawsuit before you lose the right to the claim.
Not only will you face additional deadlines, but you’ll encounter mandatory requirements, depending on where you are, that you’ll have to attend a settlement conference. What’s more, you’ll find mandatory disclosure requirements, where you have to disclose certain information to the opposing party, and they’ll have to give certain information to you. These things don’t necessarily come into play before you file your lawsuit.
The Pre-Litigation “Vacuum” Compared with the World of Litigation
In a situation where you’ve had a car crash, before you file a lawsuit, you’re really looking at things in a vacuum. You’re looking at what happened from the date of the accident going forward, providing information as needed, and trying to reach that fair and reasonable settlement on your case.
Once you get into litigation, that vacuum kind of goes away. You transition into an exploration into the claim that you’ve made. At this point, the difference between pre litigation vs litigation becomes particularly evident.
As the plaintiff’s attorney in litigation, Negretti & Associates faces the burden of proving your claim for the car crash — along with the injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with your accident. Meantime, defendants don’t really have a burden of proof. But they do love poking holes in your case, to avoid paying you full value on your claim. They’ll start looking at past medical records and other issues that may be going on in your life — all in an effort to avoid compensating your fairly.
Considering Litigation? Be Aware
Once you cross over the “pre-litigation vs litigation” threshold, and once you start to live in that world of litigation — meaning, you’ve filed a lawsuit — the entire scenario changes quite a bit.
For this reason, at Negretti & Associates, we make our clients aware of what that scenario might look like. We have some pretty comprehensive conversations with our clients. We sit down and we talk about this reality and what this means.
This doesn’t mean that you should be fearful of litigation. We’re not saying to avoid litigation. But you should understand what happens in litigation, because the last thing you want to do is file a lawsuit, get into litigation, and then wish you hadn’t done that. You won’t want to be trying to find ways out of your case, presenting a disadvantage to not only you but obviously to everyone involved in the lawsuit.
No one likes to sue anyone else. There are some people out there who will raise their hands and say, “I like to sue people, but I don’t like to sue people.” As an attorney, I sue people out of necessity.
Ultimately, no one wants to be in a lawsuit. The defendant — the actual person who was in the car crash with you — doesn’t want to be sued. The defendant is at the mercy of an insurance company that won’t be reasonable or fair to you. Because of this lack of reasonableness and fairness, you’re required or forced to file a lawsuit.
If anyone might enjoy lawsuits — absent the poor souls who have decided to be defense attorneys — the insurance companies probably do. They really do buy down what they have to pay to people if they didn’t file lawsuits. And, so, I think they probably enjoy that reality.
Remember, the slow-moving process of litigation can wear on people. It can be very challenging for people to get all the way through litigation without losing interest and certainly without being fearful of the unknown. With that said, if you’re considering litigation, rely on your attorneys. Trust your attorneys. Make decisions with your attorneys. But don’t let them make decisions for you.
Questions About Pre-Litigation vs Litigation? Contact Negretti & Associates
If you’re seeking a law firm in Arizona, California, or Colorado that handles pre-litigation and litigation, give Negretti & Associates. We’ll be happy to help you find answers to your questions. For a free consultation with our legal team, call us at (602) 531-3911 in Arizona, (619) 777-3370 in California, or (720) 636-3444 in Colorado. You can also contact us online or send us a text.