Most people feel that if they are in an auto accident, simply hire an attorney and go to trail. What they don’t understand is the logistics that it takes to go to trial. First, the court assigns the trial date; that date is dependent upon courts schedule, as well as the caseload of the prosecuting attorney. Second, the evidence needs to be entered into trial. Third, the discovery phase of litigation can be time consuming. Delays are also allowed by both parties to respond to discovery and to take depositions.
In reality, in order to ensure the best outcome you must spend the time up front making sure that you have all of your ducks in a row including expert witnesses and all of the facts of the case. In response to this cautionary statement, clients usually blurts out, “We have all the medical bills and medical records; what’s the problem? This is when the explanation of entering medical bills and records at trial becomes necessary. In 2005 the Illinois Supreme Court decided Athur vs. Catour. Prior to this ruling an injured Plaintiff might testify at trial that she incurred medical expenses and the injured plaintiff’s testimony that she was willing to pay these bills acted as justification that the charges were reasonable. In the Arthur case the Defendant objected to the Plaintiff testifying that she paid $19k in bills when her health insurance company paid $13,500 to satisfy the $19k bill. The Plaintiff could not truthfully testify to the additional $5,500.
Nowadays expert testimony is required to obtain the additional $5,500 at trial which is expensive and takes time. One response would be to attempt a request to admit facts under Supreme Court Rule 216 (request to submit) before trial and provide all the bills and records to the Defense. Routinely the Defense says that it is not trained in medicine or billing and cannot admit. Judges often allow the Defense to play the boiler-plate response game and let the request go. Customarily we must then take the physicians deposition, which is dependent upon their individual schedule.
This is but one example of why it sometimes appears to take an extraordinary long period of time to trial. Additionally there can be legal delays as both parties (Plaintiff and Defendant) and their respective attorneys, respond to discovery and evidence. Keeping an open line of communication with your attorney throughout the phases of litigation will make the process much easier for everyone.