Skip to main content

Lawsuits are filed for multiple reasons:

  • To preserve the claim before the applicable Stature of Limitations expires
  • Insurance company won’t make an acceptable settlement offer
  • Obtaining a trial date as soon as possible after an accident provides an incentive for the insurance company to address the claim in a reasonable and efficient manner

Parties to a lawsuit

  • The person filing the lawsuit as a result of being injured by the defendant(s)
  • The spouse of the injured party
Involuntary Plaintiff
  • Entities that have made payments on behalf of the injured party, typically because of health insurance, medical payments, workers’ compensation, or disability benefits.
  • Individual or company alleged to have responsibility for the harm inflicted upon the plaintiff
  • Insurance company providing coverage to the fault individual or company

Summons and Complaint

The defendant receives notice of a filed lawsuit through the Summons. In order to establish jurisdiction over the party, you must serve the Summons to the defendant.

The Complaint sets forth the allegations against the defendant, in particular:

  • The defendant acted in a negligent manner, meaning it failed to use ordinary care
  • The negligence of the defendant was a cause of the injuries and damages sustained by the plantiff
  • The plaintiff sustained injuries and damages as result of the negligence


Every The Answer may also include:

  • Affirmative Defenses against the plaintiff
  • Claims against the plaintiff and other defendants


Once a Summons and Complaint have been filed and all parties have responded with an Answer, the discovery process begins

  • Interrogatories- Written questions that each side sends to the other seeking information about the claims
  • Request for Production of Documents
  • Request for Admissions
  • Depositions- Verbal questioning of parties and witnesses in front of a court reporter

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative Dispute Resolution is a forum required by courts to help parties settle disputes.

  • Mediation – A neutral person, referred to as a mediator, assists the parties in negotiating a resolution that is agreeable to everyone
  • Arbitration – Agreed upon arbitrators hear testimony from both sides and enter a decision to resolve the claims. Arbitration results are typically binding.


When parties cannot settle the claims, a trial is conducted to resolve the matter by a tier of fact. Parties provide testimony through lay and expert witnesses. Each side has the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses presented by the other side. Attorneys argue how the trier of fact should decide.

  • Court Trial – The parties may agree that the judge will act as the trier of fact and abide by the judge’s ruling
  • Jury Trial – Most trials are conducted before a jury of 12 members. After all testimony has been presented the court provides the members with Jury Instructions and a Special Verdict
    • Jury Instructions provide the law that the jurors are to follow when considering the evidence provided at trial
    • Special Verdict is the document which sets forth the particular questions the jury is required to answer which determine whether the plaintiff has proven the allegation set forth in the Complaint and is entitled to a recovery for the injuries and damages sustained.

The allegations given rise to a personal injury lawsuit are detail orientated and may be very complex. Developing successful strategies is critical from the first steps of drafting a Complaint to the wording of the questions on the Special Verdict. The attorneys at Habush Habush & Rottier are trial lawyers. Having an experienced lawyer who understands how a personal injury lawsuit works allows our clients to receive maximum compensation for their injuries.

Attorney Douglas E. Swanson

Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha
Doug Swanson is a shareholder at the law firm and works in the Waukesha office. Doug’s practice involves handling a wide variety of personal injury claims, including motor vehicle accidents, defective products, slips and falls, contractor negligence, landowner liability, dog bite claims and nursing home accidents. He has successfully tried numerous cases in more than 10 different Wisconsin counties. Because of his trial experience, the National Board of Trial Advocacy certified him as a Civil Trial Specialist in 2001. He has also been named a Wisconsin Super Lawyer since 2012.  

View Douglas’s Full Bio