What does pre-litigation mean? To someone involved in a lawsuit, it means the opportunity to have a formal process involving several steps prior to litigation. The process opens opportunities for the dispute to be settled with the help of an attorney without the need to go to court.

About the Pre-Litigation Process


During pre-litigation proceedings, an outline detailing the case is presented to a panel for review. Information will also include relevant testimony and evidence. Questions will be asked by the panel of the parties involved who will be required to answer in a non-confrontational or emotional manner.


The pre-litigation process also includes mediation, which is in place to save time and money for everyone involved. Some courts have a mediation department while in other courts, the judge may refer both parties to speak with a mediator. During mediation, an unbiased third party mediates between the plaintiff and the defendant to help resolve the dispute and come to a resolution.


When a pre-litigation hearing takes place, many people are involved. This begins with the plaintiff contacting a lawyer. The lawyer, in turn, works with their personnel, such as expert witnesses and investigators. During the hearing, people who may be called on to testify include:

  • Police officers.
  • Insurance Adjusters.
  • Emergency workers.
  • Medical workers.
  • Hospital workers.
  • Physicians.
  • Therapists.


Two main benefits of pre-litigation are financial savings and privacy for the parties involved. Speaking with a third party ensures confidentiality. The types of cases that benefit the most are those involving insurance, employment, business disputes, and various civil disagreements.

From a financial standpoint, pre-litigation saves money on direct costs, such as expert witnesses, legal fees, and hours lost at work. Another benefit is that pre-litigation may allow a quicker resolution to a dispute versus spending an extended period in courts, resulting in less stress for the parties involved.

The pre-litigation process follows these steps:

  1. The attorney sends a formal letter.
  2. There is an investigation into the allegations.
  3. A demand is made.
  4. Attempts to settle the dispute are the final step before taking the issue to court.

Formal Notification

When a dispute arises between parties, the first step taken by an attorney in the pre-litigation process is sending a formal notification. This is usually in the form of a letter with notification going to the other party's lawyer and their insurance company.

The notice clearly outlines the "what" and "why" details of the dispute. The lawyer may also request related information. The pre-litigation letter is the standard protocol for initiating the first step in informing the other party's attorney prior to starting an investigation.


Prior to taking a case to court, a civil dispute attorney must have all the pertinent facts relating to the case. All required and important information is gathered during the pre-litigation investigation process. The type of information includes copies of insurance claims, employment records, medical records, and any other type of record necessary for the case. This is also the time an attorney will speak with witnesses and take statements.


Upon completion of the investigation, the attorney for the injured party will send a formal pre-litigation demand, which can be sent in alternate ways. One type of formal demand can be in the form of a claim sent directly to the other party's insurance company.

A second option is sending a formal demand letter for compensation for the injury party. This is sent directly to the other party. The pre-litigation demand can be in simple letter form or it can be a multi-page document that contains copies of the information gathered during the investigation process.

Settlement Attempt

When a formal demand is made, it usually results in an opportunity for the civil dispute to be settled prior to going to court. Disputing settlements is an informal process with discussions between the attorneys for both parties, the client, and an insurance representative.

During the informal discussion, one party may make a counteroffer, make a settlement offer, or reject the settlement. If a more formal discussion is necessary, third-party mediation comes into the picture to help negotiate a settlement before the dispute goes to litigation.

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