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Freedman Law Guide to Litigation

Although every case is unique, this guide provides a summary of the basic stages in a case to help our clients understand what to expect from our Fresno personal injury attorneys.

Hiring Freedman Law

Your first call will be with our intake team who will gather the basic information and schedule you for an immediate appointment.

Your first appointment will be with the intake team and a lawyer. We will get to know you and your case.

Client’s role: Bring your pictures and documents.

How long this stage takes: 1-2 hours


You will provide the basic facts during intake, and then Freedman Law’s experienced investigators will gather reports and records and look into potential sources of insurance.

You will also be assigned a case manager who will keep in close contact as you treat for your injuries and be available to provide guidance regarding health insurance, providers and disability.

Client’s role: Keep us informed by telephone or email regarding your treatment and/or time off work.

How long this stage takes: The initial investigation usually takes approximately 6 weeks and then you will meet again with the case manager and lawyer who will update you on the results of the investigation.


As you continue to treat, your case manager and lawyer will be in constant contact. We have experience with most local providers and can even assist with specialists out of the area.

Client’s role: Keep us informed by telephone or email regarding your treatment and/or time off work.

How long this stage takes: The preference is to allow clients to complete treatment before we move on to the next stage, but in some cases we move to the next stage while you are still treating. After you are done treating, or we have decided to move to the next stage, which is drafting a demand package, we will start gathering your records.

Gathering Records

We will gather records as you finish treating with each provider.

Client’s role: Keep us informed by telephone or email regarding your treatment and/or time off work.

How long this stage takes: Depending on the provider it can take 30-90 days to obtain copy of your records.

Demand Package

In many cases, once the records we can draft a demand package that summarizes what happened in the incident and your injuries. We will review this demand package with you before it is submitted. You will be given information regarding any issues of liability, causation and damages. You will understand the basis of the demand figure and whether it is right to make a demand at that time or instead to move forward with filing a complaint.

Client’s role: Keep us informed by telephone or email regarding your treatment and/or time off work. Often at this time you will be asked to provide pictures of you injuries or your life before this incident. You may also be asked to draft an impact statement about how this has impacted your family. You will also need to meet and/or conference with your case manager and attorney about the content of the demand package.

How long this stage takes: Depending on the complexity of your case it could take 30-90 days to summarize your records, draft a demand package, review it with you and have it ready to submit in final form.

Settlement Negotiations

Most negotiations start with a demand package. It is very uncommon unless there is limited insurance available, or the first demand to be expected. Usually the negotiations go back and forth. You will be consulted at each step of the negotiations.

Client’s role: Be available to discuss negotiations and provide authority to make demands and/or accept offers.

How long this stage takes: Depending on the complexity of your case, it usually takes about 30 days to determine if a case is going to settle informally or what needs to be done next. Usually the next step is filing a personal injury lawsuit, but on occasion we schedule a mediation to see if a mediator can help the case resolve. Again, every case and every negotiation is unique.

Filing the Complaint

The filing of the complaint is the start of what lawyers refer to as litigation. Before the filing of the complaint we are usually negotiating with the adjuster for the insurance company. Once we file the complaint, the insurance company will assign an attorney to represent them. It is filing the legal complaint which gives us the power to issue subpoenas and/or take depositions, which often are needed to explore issues of liability.

Client’s role: Continue to keep us updated regarding the status of your treatment.

How long this stage takes: Usually 30-60 days.

Formal Discovery

Formal discovery is when we have the power of subpoena to take depositions and ask the defendant to answer questions under penalty of perjury. This is the longest part of the case. Courts usually do not set trial until 12-18 months after filing the complaint and that time is used to gather information and prepare for trial.

Client’s role: Once formal discovery starts, you will work with the case manager and attorney to answer formal questions regarding the incident and your injuries. You may also be required to give a deposition and/or attend a medical examination by a doctor chosen by the defense. We will be with you every step of the way.

How long this stage takes: It will probably take 3-6 hours to assist in answering the written discovery requests. If you need to give a deposition, our attorney will meet with you 3-4 times to make sure you are completely comfortable and ready to give your deposition. Total time to prepare for and attend your deposition is in the 8-12 hour range. If you need to be examined by one of their doctors that will probably take another 3-4 hours. Again, we are with you every step of the way.


Once the complaint has been filed, the court will usually require we attend a formal mediation. A mediation is where an experienced lawyer with no connection to the case meets with everyone and tries to help them resolve the case. Many cases resolve at mediation.

Client’s role: Attend mediation and be available to provide authority to make demands and/or accept offers.

How long this stage takes: Depending on the complexity of your case, a mediation usually takes 3-4 hours, but can last all day.


When the parties have been unable to reach a settlement and the case is fully prepared, the matter proceeds to trial. Most cases do not go to trial, but if it does, trials can be very time consuming. Trials on catastrophic cases often last several weeks or months. The client is an active participant during the course of the trial. The trial involves jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, documentary or other tangible evidence, closing arguments, and jury deliberation.

Client’s role: Preparing for and attending trial involves attending several pretrial hearings, meeting with the attorney to prepare for trial and attending the trial.

How long this stage takes: In that last month before trial, expect to spend 4-5 full days with the attorney, including for the Mandatory Settlement Conference (usually 2-3 weeks before trial) and the Trial Readiness Hearing (usually the Friday before trial.) The rest of the time will be spent preparing for trial. Trial itself usually lasts 1-2 weeks for most cases.


Appeals occur when one side is unhappy with the outcome or decision that has been reached at trial and believe there is a legal basis for the judgment to be set aside. Most trials do not get appealed, but if it does happen, appeals require detailed briefing and analyses.

Client’s role: Most of the work at this stage is done by the attorney.

How long this stage takes: Appeals typically take one to two years from the date the appeal has begun until the appellate court makes a decision on a case. Sometimes parties engage in settlement discussions again during the appellate process. If an appeals court upholds the verdict, then the case is most likely completed unless there are unusual circumstances. The appeals court can also decide that something was unfair during the trial and require that the case be retried.


Once you have accepted a settlement, you will be required to sign a formal release and dismiss the case.

Client’s role: You will need to come in and sign the release and then later come in to pick up your settlement check.

How long this stage takes: Once there is an agreement to settle, it usually takes 7-10 days for the defense attorney to provide the form of the release and then it can take another 2-3 weeks for the settlement check to come in and be ready for disbursements. In some cases, settlements can take longer if we need to negotiate with MediCal or worker’s compensation liens or if the client is a minor and we need to get approval from the court.