What To Expect When Filing A Lawsuit

Filing The Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit is not a common occurrence for most people. It may seem arcane and intimidating at first. However, with the help of the experienced attorneys at Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman, a lawsuit can give you the opportunity to vindicate your rights and to seek full compensation for your injuries. Here is what to expect if you decide to file a case.

A lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint in court. Depending on the nature of the case, the complaint will be filed in either state court or federal court. There are state courts in each of Hawai‘i’s four counties. The federal court is located in Honolulu, but serves all Hawai‘i residents.


After the complaint is filed, the attorneys who represent the parties to the lawsuit have an opportunity to conduct “discovery.” This is basically a fact-finding process. Through discovery, attorneys are entitled to question witnesses (either in person or through writing), request documents, and inspect property.

Perhaps the most critical part of discovery is the deposition of the plaintiff. A deposition is basically a formal “interview” that is conducted by the opposing attorneys in front of a court reporter (who transcribes the questions and answers verbatim) under oath. The deposition gives the plaintiff an opportunity to tell his or her side of the story.

The deposition is the client’s most significant involvement in the lawsuit. Your attorneys will spend time to prepare you for the deposition. After the deposition is taken, your attorneys will take the lead in working on your case.


The case will then be set for trial. Depending on the type of case, a jury trial may be requested. The case will be assigned to a specific judge, who will be responsible for managing the case and deciding any disputes that arise before and during the trial.

Alternative Ways To Resolve The Lawsuit

To avoid a trial, sometimes the attorneys may be asked to mediate the case. In mediation, the attorneys and parties will mutually select a neutral person who will assist in reaching a settlement without the need for a trial. Mediation is not binding, meaning that no party is required to agree to what a mediator recommends.

Some cases may also be arbitrated. An arbitration proceeding is more formal than a mediation. In some instances, the attorneys and parties mutually select someone to serve as arbitrator. In the vast majority of Hawai‘i motor vehicle injury cases, the arbitrator is an attorney who has been selected by the Court Annexed Arbitration Program. The attorneys will present their cases to the arbitrator, who will then make a decision. In some situations, the arbitration decision is binding.

Time To Complete The Lawsuit

The length of time to complete a lawsuit varies and is dependent on the specific circumstances of each case. Depending on the nature of the case, you should expect that it will take from one to two years to complete a lawsuit. If a case goes to trial, the losing party has an opportunity to file an appeal. An appeal will be decided by the appellate court and may take approximately one to three years to decide.

Select The Right Attorney

If you are considering filing a lawsuit, it is important that you carefully select an attorney to represent you. The legal system is complex, and an experienced attorney will know exactly how to navigate through the system to maximize the potential of your case. In personal injury cases, the Galiher law firm represents our clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay attorneys’ fees and costs unless there is a recovery.