Now that the lawsuit has been filed, what happens next? Sometimes the insurance company immediately makes a settlement offer. The lawsuit papers may be just the thing to get the insurance company’s attention. Often the case has not settled simply because the insurance company just has not gotten around to evaluating the case. Once it is served with the suit papers, it will be squarely faced with a choice. If it chooses to contest the case, it will have to pay its attorneys to defend it. Rather than pay its lawyers and then the claimant at the end of the case, the company may begin to seriously consider making a fair offer of settlement.
If the insurance company does not yet want to settle the case, it will send the suit papers to its attorneys so that a response to the lawsuit can be filed with the court. Lawyers sometimes refer to the initial suit papers as the Complaint. The insurance company’s lawyer may file an Answer to the Complaint, or it may file some form of legal objection to the Complaint. Objections are filed when the company feels that the Complaint is in some way technically defective.
Once the preliminary objections are resolved, the defendant files an Answer to the Complaint. An Answer is a legal document that admits or denies the allegations contained in the Complaint. The Answer rarely sheds any light on the conflict because it generally contains nothing but blanket denials. The Answer typically denies everything except that which cannot possibly be disputed (such as the names and addresses of the parties). Once these preliminaries are out of the way, the attorneys begin the discovery process. That is where the essence of the conflict begins to emerge.