Civil litigation involves one party being accused of doing something wrong but not necessarily committing a crime. Civil litigation ranges from labor law to small claims cases. Understanding civil law can be complicated, and it can be harder still to determine whether your case has a chance of being successful. The following are a few pointers that can help you better understand civil litigation.
Understanding Civil Litigation
Civil litigation happens in five stages. First, there is the discovery process. Your lawyers and the lawyers on the other side of the table exchange evidence and analyze data. Next, there’s the pretrial phase where lawyers interact with their clients, talk to expert witnesses, and create a strategy for the case.
During the trial, a jury may be selected, lawyers present their case, and witnesses and testimony are presented. Settlement happens in most cases where both sides negotiate to reach a compromise. And, finally, there is the opportunity for an appeal if the litigation lawyer who represents you does not approve of the outcome.
Go to Trial or Settle
In civil litigation, winning is not enough. You can go broke while trying to win a civil case. This is because as the trial plays out, legal fees mount. With your attorney, calculate the probability of winning, factor in the payouts, and contrast this with the probability of losing and potential losses. This will help you determine when it is the best time to settle or when it is best to continue with the trial. It is interesting to note to that the majority of civil litigation cases settle before trial.
Civil Litigation versus Criminal Litigation
In a criminal case, the defendant is found guilty or not guilty, and the defendant must be shown guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Until that is done, the defendant is assumed innocent. In a civil case, it is a question of whether or not the defendant is liable and to what degree they are liable. You cannot be incarcerated as a result of civil litigation, and the standard of proof is lower. What is looked for is the preponderance of evidence, meaning that it is likely something happened in a particular way.
What to Look for in a Civil Litigation Lawyer
When looking for a lawyer like Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. or someone similar you want someone to be credible. They should have your trust, engender trust with the judge and jurors, and even earn the respect of the opposing counsel. They should be civil. Although at its heart litigation is an argument, you want your lawyer to be persuasive and civil, but not necessarily confrontational. Confrontation produces short-term gains but long-term problems.
They should be confident. Throughout your case, your lawyer is making many choices for you. While hubris and false confidence have no place in the courtroom, to be effective your lawyer should have personal and professional confidence.
Will I Win the Case?
Results vary from case to case. However, studies have shown that in the vast majority of cases, plaintiffs who settle walk away with more money than those who went to trial and refused what was offered. This is why between 80 to 92 percent of civil litigation cases settle. A competent lawyer will provide proactive legal advice to help you know the best course to follow.
Winning civil litigation is not always about whether you’re right. It’s about how you present the case, the lawyer you select, and knowing when it is the right time to settle. The above mentioned suggestions could help you successfully conclude your civil case.
Author information: Kare Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. You can find Kara on Facebook and Twitter.