Civil litigation is a process through which litigants seek to resolve a dispute through the court system. It can involve various legal remedies, including money damages.
The process begins with a plaintiff filing and “serving” a complaint against the defendant. The complaint describes the harm caused and what relief the plaintiff is seeking.
The first step in any civil lawsuit is filing a complaint with the court. Our attorneys can prepare a complaint that identifies the defendant, describes the plaintiff’s damages or injury, and shows that the court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims in the suit. This step is extremely important because a lawsuit may be dismissed if it is filed in the wrong court or if the complaint does not meet certain requirements in that particular court.
In a federal case, the complaint must contain allegations that show the court has subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction and venue in the case under U.S. law and the Constitution. It also must contain separate counts for each legal claim in the complaint.
Once the complaint is filed, it must be served on the other party in the lawsuit (the defendant). The Defendant must then create an official reply to the lawsuit called an Answer. The Answer must respond to the allegations in the complaint and should include any defenses that the Defendant wants to assert in the case.
The answer is a defendant’s first formal response to the plaintiff’s initial petition or complaint. It provides a detailed description of how the alleged harm occurred and also lays out any legal arguments that might be used to defend against the plaintiff’s claims. For example, it may assert affirmative defenses (facts or legal arguments that might defeat the plaintiff’s claim) or counterclaims (allegations against the plaintiff claiming that they caused harm to the defendant).
An answer should carefully consider all of the plaintiff’s allegations and should be written with caution to avoid any inadvertent admissions. General denials are highly discouraged since they can negatively affect one’s credibility with the court.
It is important to consult with a civil attorney to discuss your case and determine how best to proceed. The experienced team at Peters Brovner LLP will work to resolve your case as quickly and efficiently as possible always with your best interests in mind.
The discovery process is one of the most important tools in preparing for trial. It provides each side with the opportunity to talk to witnesses, gather documents and evidence, and determine the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
This information is often gathered through written questions called “interrogatories” which must be answered under oath and requests for production of documents, and depositions (testimonies by witnesses in front of a court reporter who records them word for word). In addition to providing useful information for the preparation of the case, it can help the parties settle their differences out of court.
A person may object to certain discovery requests, such as those asking for personal matters not relevant to the litigation or which would violate a privilege, such as the witness’s religious beliefs, medical history, sexual practices, or immediate family relationships. A judge can order a party or witness to comply with the rules of discovery or face sanctions, such as a negative instruction by the judge at trial or dismissal of some claims or counterclaims.
The trial process in a civil case involves both parties arguing their sides before a judge or jury. This can take several months to a year depending on the complexity of the case, the court in which it is filed, and its caseload. During the trial, the plaintiff and defendant will exchange information through discovery, and each side will present their evidence to the judge or jury. At the end of the trial, the judge or jury will analyze the facts and law to hand down a final “judgment” (or decision) in the matter.
People file lawsuits for a wide variety of reasons. Some of the most common include torts, contract disputes, landlord/tenant issues, workers’ compensation claims, and property disputes. While there are many different types of civil cases, each one makes its way through a similar process. Often, these disputes are resolved outside of the courtroom through mediation or arbitration. However, if the dispute does go to trial, it is important that both parties have experienced legal counsel on their side to ensure their rights are protected.
While many cases go to trial, some are settled out of court. Typically, once both sides have enough information about the case to make a careful calculation of how much a verdict will cost, how much they stand to gain or lose and the chances of winning or losing, they may be willing to settle.
When a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff’s attorney will prepare a complaint that sets forth the claims against the defendant. The defendant’s legal team will then evaluate the complaint. If the defendant is not sure they will win, they may file a motion to dismiss.
If the judge or jury decides in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant will pay a judgment. The plaintiff can then file an appeal if they think the judge or jury made an error in law. Alternatively, the parties can choose to resolve their dispute through mediation or arbitration. Both of these processes involve a neutral third party who facilitates discussion to help the parties reach an agreement. The parties also must agree on how to handle costs if the settlement is reached.