Civil litigation is a broad term that refers to many types of cases, and these cases usually involve claims for monetary damages. Types of civil litigation lawsuits include:
- Personal injury cases
- Property damage cases
- Landlord-tenant disputes
- Medical malpractice cases
- Employment or labor disputes
Common Steps in a Civil Law Case
The first step in a claim is evaluating the case with the assistance of a civil litigation attorney. The attorney will give you an idea of whether the case is worth pursuing, as well as the potential value.
If you decide to pursue the case, the attorney will begin the process with an investigation of facts. This will include collecting all relevant documentation, potentially including police reports, witness statements, photographs, and medical records.
If the claim cannot be settled, the next step is the filing of a lawsuit. Once that has been filed, both parties will file pleadings, which are initial court documents explaining their side of the story. The plaintiff’s pleading is called the complaint, which sets forth the alleged harmful or damaging actions by the defendant and what the plaintiff wants out of the case. The defendant will usually file an “answer.” This answers the accusations or allows the defendant to ask for more clarification on the case.
Once the pleadings are both with the court, discovery begins. The discovery process is an exchange of information between the parties, and includes the provision of relevant documents and depositions of witnesses. Expert witnesses are sometimes used to offer testimony for complex medical or scientific issues.
Upon the completion of the discovery process, the case moves forward to a pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference, the judge will assist the parties in attempting to reach a settlement/resolution.
If there is no settlement, the case proceeds to trial. The trial can be in front of either a judge or jury for a final determination of the issues. At the trial, each party will have the option to make opening statements, then pursue arguments and questioning, and craft closing arguments. The judge and jury will then decide the verdict.