Handling a Civil Law Suit

Posted on April 6th, 2015 by Tom Zimmerman

Civil litigation lawyers are legal professionals who focus on preparing and pursuing lawsuits for clients looking to resolve a dispute, be it between individuals or organizations. The goal of civil lawsuits is for any monetary damages to be paid or to obtain injunctive relief to alter someone’s conduct.

Civil litigation covers a wide range of matters, which include personal injury, medical malpractice, breach of contract, fraud, defamation, discrimination and debt collection.

How a civil lawsuit begins:

The litigation process consists of pleadings, discovery, the trial, and if necessary, an appeal. The civil action is initiated when the plaintiff and his or her civil litigation lawyers file the complaint in court, and the sheriff serves a copy of the complaint on the defendant. This complaint describes in some detail the harm caused by the defendant, and the legal basis for holding the defendant responsible. The defendant and his or her legal team will respond to the complaint within a prescribed time limit, and file a written answer to each of the allegations with the court.

Once the complaint has been initiated and responded to, the discovery process can begin. It is during discovery that the parties to the lawsuit develop the facts in preparation for trial. Any witnesses to the act are questioned, and documents are exchanged and researched. Discovery closes shortly before the trial phase commences.

Frequently, the parties are unable to agree on things, and they have to apprise the court of their differences through a document called a motion. Some of the more common motions are for the entry of a default judgment, motion to dismiss the complaint, motion to compel, and motions for summary judgment. In the event mediation or arbitration is entered into and the case settles out of court, a trial will not be necessary. Should an out of court settlement prove impossible to reach, the case will go to trial.

During the trial, both the plaintiff and the defendant will present evidence to support their claims. Civil litigation lawyers may call witnesses at this time. Once the evidence has been presented and the witnesses have been heard, the opposing attorneys offer a closing argument and the jury is asked to deliberate and come to a decision.

Trial alternatives:

Alternatives to trial include mediation, arbitration, and settlement. All these alternatives save time and money. The majority of civil cases are settled out of court, at times with the help of a third party mediator who helps the parties reach a mutually-agreeable settlement. In the event both parties elect to arbitrate the dispute, the arbitrator hears both sides, weighs the evidence, and decides which party wins. If the arbitration that was agreed upon is binding, there is no possibility of filing an appeal of the arbitrator’s ruling.

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