Justia Badge
Google Reviews
The National Trial Lawyers - Top 100
Avvo Badge
Expertise 2023
Expertise 2021

What are the stages of a San Diego Car Accident lawsuit?

One question clients often ask in a car accident case is what is the next step? A civil injury lawsuit has multiple stages, from investigation all the way through appeals. The process can take years, but normally it is not quite that complicated. The following is a basically a highlight reel of how a San Diego Car Accident lawsuit proceeds.


Pretty much every car accident case that we handle starts with a thorough investigation – even before we accept a client. This is much more involved than an initial phone call depending on what happened. Usually the investigation stage includes examining police reports, interviewing witnesses, examining photographs, identifying negligent parties, collecting insurance information, and anything else that helps us to make a determination as to possible outcomes of a case. During this stage we will also get an in depth summary of injuries and damages so that we know how best to help a client.


After a determination is made that a potential client has a valid case, the client is sent a fee agreement to sign and return to us. Any lawyer that is hired to work on a case should have that agreement in writing – it is required by the California State Bar. Once we sign up a client we begin a secondary investigation phase where we work to collect all of a client’s important documents. Typically, this includes the following:

  1. A copy of the client’s insurance policy and declarations page
  2. All medical bills or collection notices
  3. A copy of medical insurance cards
  4. A copy of our client’s driver’s license
  5. Any property damage estimates
  6. A copy of the police report
  7. Photographs of the accident
  8. Photographs of injuries
  9. Any witness information that you have from the scene of the incident
  10. Anything else that could be remotely important to a car accident case.

During this stage it is also possible that we retain experts to examine the scene of the accident or even send an investigator to the scene to take photographs and document anything that could be important to the case. 


One of the most critical pieces of information in any injury case is knowing exactly what a client’s injuries are and whether they have recovered fully from the injuries. Our office follows a client’s medical treatment closely and works with the client to understand what is happening with treatment. It can take months and sometimes even more than a year for a client that has suffered serious injuries in a car accident to know whether they are going to fully recover. As each client goes through their treatment, our office stays in close touch with them to monitor what is happening. Once we have all medical bills and records, we can proceed to the next step.


Prior to filing a case, our office will always attempt to resolve a case with the insurance company or involved parties. Many cases settle without the need for a case to be filed if a reasonable, fair offer is made. If not, the case proceeds to litigation.


If the case cannot be settled, we file a lawsuit and serve the defendants.


During the discovery phase of a car accident lawsuit, written discovery (questions to the other party) is typically served. These include form interrogatories, special interrogatories, requests for production and requests for admission. After responses are received and any objections or evasive answers are dealt with, depositions are typically taken. During the beginning of a case in San Diego, a Case Management Conference is scheduled when the case is filed. During this conference, the Court sets deadlines to work a case through trial.

The depositions of the plaintiff and defendant(s) are almost always taken. Witness depositions of anyone who saw the accident or even police officers can also be taken. Expert discovery is also done where expert reports are exchanged and any expert depositions are taken.


Almost every case that is filed and proceeds through discovery ends up at mediation. This is a process where the parties use a neutral mediator who attempts to help the parties settle the case.


If the case does not settle at mediation, it proceeds to trial.


The final step of a San Diego Car Accident Lawsuit is either dealing with appeals or a judgment being paid by the insurance companies.

Get Help with Your San Diego Car Accident Case

If you or a loved one have been injured in a San Diego Car Accident, contact a lawyer from Rist Law Office to help with your case. Our office has recovered millions of dollars for clients. Call us at (619) 377-4660 to set up a free consultation today.

Client Reviews

“Tom Rist embodies all of the attributes a person would look for in an attorney. He is honest, trustworthy, competent, genuine, and personable. He is a natural at putting his clients at ease.”

Google Review by a Client

“I just wanted to say thank you for everything. I really appreciate all you did for my case. Awesome job.”

Employment Case Client

“Thank you so much for what you did in this case. My husband and I had nowhere to turn until we found you. Your work on this case made all of the difference for us and our family. We are so very grateful for your help and will send all of our family and friends to you if they need a lawyer for...

Fraud Litigation Client

“Thank you so much for what you did in this case. We will refer everyone that we know to your office for help with any legal matter. Thank you for your hard work.”

Wrongful Death Client Representative

“You did excellent work in this case to get not only the attorneys for the defendants to understand your client’s strong position, but also to get their insurance claim representatives to put real value on what was a hard case.”

Mediator in a crime victim case

Contact Us

  1. 1 Free Consultation
  2. 2 No Fees Unless You Win
  3. 3 Get Results, Not Excuses
Fill out the contact form or call us at (619) 377-4660 to schedule your free consultation.

Leave Us a Message