What Is A Lawsuit?
If no settlement is possible by an informal claim alone, either because the insurance company denies fault or the extent of injuries, or because the damages are too excessive to settle as a claim, the plaintiff's lawyer files a Complaint At Law for money damages. Either side may request a Jury Trial, but it will ordinarily take several years of Discovery, Motions, and Pre-Trial Conferences before an actual trial takes place. In Cook County, the amount sought is non-specific, merely stating "in excess of Fifty Thousand Dollars" to meet the jurisdictional minimum of the Law Division. Cases with damages under Thirty Thousand Dollars are filed in the Municipal Division of Cook County. If no settlement is achieved, the verdict at trial by jury or judge is the actual amount awarded, regardless of the amount sought at the time of suit.