A Guide to the Civil Litigation Process and Procedures
In 2018, the civil court system across the United States heard more than 277,000 cases. The appellate court system heard more than 49,000.
A civil lawsuit, also known as civil litigation, is based on non-criminal statutes. Civil litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that, usually, seek economic damages or specific performance, rather than criminal sanctions. Since these lawsuits are non-criminal, it means they’re separate from criminal proceedings.
Civil claims arise out of disputes between two or more legal entities such as people, companies, governments etc. These claims usually follow certain steps, such as making a demand to pay money, fulfill a promise, or rectify a broken agreement. If the demand is not met, a claimant usually proceeds with litigating a matter in a court or tribunal.
One of the most common types of cases heard in civil court is personal injury cases. Other civil cases include breach of contract or complaints against a municipality itself.
Understanding the civil litigation process and procedures is essential in moving forward with a case. Continue reading to learn the necessary steps in these types of cases, alongside other helpful information.
Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney
Before filing a civil lawsuit or fighting against one, it’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney. An attorney can tell you how strong your case is and what is needed moving forward.
At the very beginning of civil litigation, each side will fill out paperwork explaining their side of the story. This complaint describes the plaintiff’s damages or injury, explains how the defendant caused the harm, shows that the court has jurisdiction, and asks the court to order relief. The defendant can then file an answer to the complaint or file a counter-claim. It’s essential to be truthful and state only the facts relevant to the case. An attorney can assist you with this paperwork.
Once both parties have completed the pleading process they will begin to gather information to strengthen their case. The goal for both parties is to enter the trial with as much information as possible. The discovery process is usually the longest part of any civil lawsuit. During this part of the process, both parties will gather information and evidence that proves their side of the story.
Sometimes, the evidence presented will cause one side to settle before going to trial. An attorney may also make an offer to settle, if applicable. This isn’t always the case, however, and many civil lawsuits go to trial.
If the dispute isn’t settled during the discovery process, the case will go to trial. This is when your lawsuit will be heard before a judge or jury, and you’ll present all the evidence you gathered during the discovery process.
Your attorney can help you appropriately present your case. They can help you navigate any legal terms you may not understand and help best present your evidence.
If either party doesn’t agree with the verdict made by the judge, they can then appeal their case. There is a limited amount of time when a case can be appealed, so it’s crucial you act quickly.
During an appeal, neither party can present any new evidence. The appellate court will review the case to determine if the verdict was fair based on the information available. If they believe it wasn’t, the appellate court can overturn the judge’s decision.
More Questions About the Civil Litigation Process and Procedures?
Civil lawsuits entail several steps to reach a decision. It’s helpful to have an attorney help you with each step of the process.
Do you have more questions about the civil litigation process and procedures? Or do you need assistance with a civil lawsuit?
Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to answer any questions you still have. They can also set up a consultation appointment if desired.