Do you feel that you are a victim of circumstances that may require filing a lawsuit? Have you suffered monetary loss due to another person's negligence or breach of contract? You may be considering your options for civil litigation. Civil litigation refers to a legal process between two parties where criminal sanctions are not in play.
This could include filing a lawsuit regarding discrimination in the workplace or filing suit against a former spouse because they have stopped paying alimony. Civil litigation can be a long and stressful process; however, knowing what to expect from the process can help ensure that your case goes as smoothly as possible.
Before Filing the Lawsuit
Before you actually file a lawsuit, interview a few different attorneys and get an impression of what they think of your case. You want to make sure that you have a chance of winning a civil litigation before you actually move forward with filing. Make sure that you have all the necessary documentation for your case at every meeting. Ask each attorney what your chances of either a settlement or a verdict in your favor are. Also make sure to discuss fees and whether or not they will represent you on a contingency basis.
Once the Civil Litigation is Filed
Once you have chosen an attorney, the next step will be filing the lawsuit. This notifies the other party that you are taking the matter to court and begins the civil litigation process. The opposing party will be given a specific period of time to respond to your complaint, and to file a motion of their own. At this point, the attorneys for both parties will begin exchanging evidence during a process known as discovery. Discovery can include taking verbal statements during a deposition, taking written statements or exchanging evidence obtained by either party.
Any necessary motions would also be filed during the discovery process. For example, if the opposing party does not feel that there is enough evidence to proceed to trial, they can file a motion to dismiss the case. This would be heard in front of a judge, who would either grant or deny the motion. There could also be a motion for mediation, where the two parties sit down together to work out a settlement.
If the Case Proceeds to Trial
If your civil litigation is not settled, expect to move forward with a trial. This is where the evidence and witnesses will be presented by both parties. Trials can be held in front of a jury or a judge, depending on state law. Settlements can still be reached during this time, especially if one party feels that the case is not going their way. Once a verdict is reached, expect for it to be appealed by the losing party. This can tie up a verdict and payout for many years as the case goes through the appeals process. (For more information on civil litigation, contact Morgan Law PLLC or another firm)