This article is from Karleia Steiner, who works as a freelance blogger and consultant. You can follow her on Google+.
Civil lawsuits are the most common type in the legal system. This type of lawsuit arises as a result of a dispute between two people or a dispute between an individual and a business or other entity. If you are considering filing a civil lawsuit, you should know these five steps so you can prepare effectively.
Consult with Your Lawyer
Most people rely on an attorney to represent them in a civil lawsuit. Before taking any other action, you should consult with your lawyer to determine if you have a strong case.
The next step in filing a civil lawsuit is to fill out your pleadings. This paperwork explains your side of the problem, but should be carefully filled out because doing it inappropriately can hurt your case. If you are working with an attorney, he or she can help you file your pleadings properly.
The process of litigation officially begins once the defendant receives your pleadings in-person. From this point, the defendant will have a set period of time to respond to your complaint against them. In some cases, the defendant may file a counter-complaint, in which case you will need to reply within a set amount of time.
Discovery is typically the longest part of any civil lawsuit. It is the process of gathering necessary evidence and other vital information from each party as well as third parties. Documents are reviewed and witnesses are interviewed during this time. Discovery ends shortly before the trial begins, but in some cases, both parties may agree to skip the trial and instead conduct a mediation or negotiate a settlement offer. These choices can save time and provide a fair outcome for both parties involved. However, if a fair agreement cannot be met, both parties will need to go to trial.
During the trial, both parties provide briefs to a judge. This document thoroughly outlines the arguments and evidence that will be used during the trial. In some cases, you may have a bench trial, which means that a judge alone decides the outcome of your case. Other cases may involve a jury, in which case they will decide the final outcome, or verdict.
Filing a civil lawsuit can feel overwhelming, especially if you are not familiar with the process or laws surrounding it. An experienced civil lawyer can help take the stress of you. Click here for more information.