For many, it can be easy to get lost in the various filings associated with a lawsuit. This post will detail the general civil litigation process from start to finish. By doing a quick rundown of the basic stages, one can get a solid foundation for the whole process.
Filing The Complaint
So, what happens when a lawsuit is filed? The initial piece of paperwork is called complaint. This document contains allegations by a plaintiff against a defendant including laws violated and situational information. After detailing the complaint with what was done, a prayer for relief (or prayer) is written at the end. Within civil law, a prayer for relief is a portion of the complaint that describes what remedies the plaintiff seeks from court.
Motion to Dismiss
The next major step in the process is done by the defendant, a motion to dismiss. During this step, the defendant files a document asking the court to decide whether a claim (assuming true) is one in which the law offers any remedy. If dismissed in this manner, it is common to refer to the case as “thrown out.” Keep in mind that within this process, the plaintiff’s claim is assumed to be true as a means to evaluate its legal legitimacy.
In preparation for the trial, the parties begin exchanging evidence in a process called discovery. This includes the requesting of information to gather situational evidence such as questions, documents, depositions, etc. During this step, expert witnesses are also brought in to help inform people through their field of expertise.
Motion for Summary Judgement
The defendant’s next opportunity to end the case is a motion for summary judgement. With the court now having the relevant information, the defendant can claim that the plaintiff’s evidence doesn’t add up. Because of the somewhat variable nature of this step (due to interpretation), it is important for the defendant to consider the honest viability of making this claim, as they will have to present convincingly that the plaintiff’s evidence is bunk. After this step, the case proceeds to trial.
Although there are a number of steps within the trial process, the basic premise is that both sides present their arguments and evidence before the jury (or judge). The evidence is then evaluated to determine the truth. After the trail is complete, a verdict is determined. The important thing to consider here is that in the ruling, things are not always black and white. The “winning” party may not receive compensation to the same extent that was expected. The “loser” in this situation also has the option to appeal the case.
One other factor to consider is the option for settlement. In law, a settlement refers to an agreement reached between opposing parties either before or after a court decision is made. The vast majority of civil cases are settled without a trail.
If you are involved in a civil lawsuit, contact a litigation lawyer, like a business litigation lawyer in Arlington, TX, to find out what your next step should be.
Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, for their insight into the civil lawsuit process.