Civil litigation is, in layman’s terms, when one person is suing another for personal damages. These damages can consist of personal injuries caused by another person, disagreements within families or between neighbors, divorce decrees, landlord and tenant disputes, disputes over property, and even breached contracts. If you aren’t sure how Civil Litigation works or just want an idea of what to expect during a lawsuit read through our breakdown of the process.
- The litigation process usually begins with a Complaint, sometimes paired with a Summons. A Complaint is a legal document citing the grievances that the Plaintiff (person filing legal suit) has against the Defendant (person being sued). A lawyer will help to prepare this document.
- The Complaint is then filed with the court and a copy is served to the Defendant. Usually, the Defendant is served by a third party.
- The Defendant then enters an Answer, which can consist of taking partial responsibility, no responsibility or even contesting with a counter claim that the Plaintiff or other third party may be responsible.
- The Defendant has a certain amount of time to respond or enter their Answer. If they fail to respond within the given time frame, a final judgment will be issued by the court. Also, if the Defendant provides an Answer of a Counterclaim, then the Counterclaim will be served to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff also has a certain time frame to respond in.
- Parties will then exchange documents pertinent to the litigation, in a process called Discovery. Medical bills, written agreements, contracts, service bills, or other proofs showing which party is at fault for the damages being sought are all examples of documents that may be pertinent to a litigation case and exchanged with the opposing party at this time.
- Sometimes, parties can come to an agreement through mediation or settlement; sometimes, one or both parties can try to dismiss the case via a motion hearing.
- If the case is not dismissed and cannot be settled through mediation or by a settlement then the case will go to court, typically in front of a judge, although a jury could be present for some cases. This is where both parties will present witnesses and documentation for their claims or in protection of claims made against them. The judge (or jury) will decide who is at fault within the lawsuit and issue a judgment.
If you have been wronged or injured and believe that litigation is needed to settle your disputes, then call our office and get a free case evaluation.