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Posted in Commercial Litigation on August 16, 2017   |  by Gary Burger

What Happens During Litigation?

So, once we file a lawsuit, many of my clients ask me, “What happens in litigation? How does it proceed? What do we do?” I’m Gary Burger from Burger Law, and we have different informational videos and stuff on our website about this. When litigation after a complaint is filed, the parties usually exchange written requests for information and documents. Those are called interrogatories, which means question or request for production of documents to get documents. Sometimes you inspect things, sometimes there are other things you can do as well.

After the initial questions are answered and after the initial documents are exchanged, typically people do depositions. I’ve done thousands of depositions. I did like four in the last five days, and in a deposition, the court reporter’s in the room. You’re usually in a lawyer’s conference room. We do many in our conference room, and the opposing lawyer gets to ask the party or witnesses questions until they’re done, and they try to keep the questions relevant to the claims at issue, and there are a lot of cases that can be litigated: breach of contract, probate, intellectual property, but we mostly do personal injury litigation here at Burger Law.

In a personal injury case, you’re typically talking about the incident or negligence of the defendant that caused the injury to the person: the car crash, the medical error, the slip and fall, what caused the death, and workers compensation cases, work-related injury, the truck crash, etc. You’re talking about the incident; you’re talking about the damages; you’re talking about what the person was like before, you’re talking about what they’re like after. When I’m taking the deposition of the defendant, I’m typically asking them about their conduct: Are they owning up? Have they taken responsibility for what they did? Did they hurt the person? How did they hurt the person? Are they admitting liability, not admitting liability? Do they contest the facts that are at the basis of the matter?

There are a whole host of things that go into depositions, but a court reporter’s taking everything down, the person has sworn to tell the truth, and that’s how we get the testimony of witnesses, so we know what the testimony is going to be like at trial because trials should not be an ambush. We say you shouldn’t do trial by ambush. You should know basically what the story is, and before we go into court to take the court and the jury’s time, we need to be able to vet the facts. We need to be able to know what the facts are, to see what’s holding water, what ain’t holding water in a case, and you only want to present to the jury what you can prove and what the facts are, and so we use depositions and these exchanges of information to do that.

Sometimes you have disputes with the other side about what you’re entitled to get, and that’s called motion practice. You have motions to compel. You have different motions. I happened to argue a bunch of motions this week. I argued a summary judgment in Jefferson City on Friday. I argued a motion to dismiss and a motion to compel today. Yesterday I argued a motion to stay and a couple motions to compel. We did pretty well in our motions. I don’t need to go over them in too much detail. I can, but I don’t want to bore you too much more than I already am.

So, motion practices when you address issues that you and the other side disagree with. That all leads up to a trial. Usually you do the fact discovery, and then you do the expert discovery, and then you go try your case which is a whole separate thing, and I have a video on that as well.

So that’s a little about the litigation process and the order that it goes in. If you have any questions about that, you can call me on my 800 number at 866-599-2222, in Illinois at 618-272-2222, or go to Thank you.