Civil lawsuits are cases that are filed on the behalf of a plaintiff or petitioner, asking the courts to grant them a judgment in protecting their rights, recovering property and assets from a defendant, or award them monetary damages stemming from an incident or accident. Some examples of civil matters include Breach of contract, property ownership, and rights, administration of wills, division of assets during a divorce, probate, and guardianship.
The process of a civil suit is very detailed and complex, and hiring a litigation attorney to represent you in your civil case will maximize your chances of having a judgment awarded in your favor. Litigation attorneys have extensive knowledge about civil laws, as well as years of experience in trying civil cases.
Starting a Civil Suit: Let Your Lawyer Do the Legwork
The first steps in filing a civil lawsuit are the most meticulous, thorough, and time-consuming part of your case. After you have hired your litigation lawyer, he or she conducts an initial investigation to review your case to ensure there is ample evidence and documentation to support your lawsuit. This includes researching the law as it applies to your specific situation and reviewing the documentation that you have provided.
If your lawyer is confident that there is enough evidence to support your claims, he or she will then enter pleadings to the proper courts. These include formal charges brought by the plaintiff, which will start with your litigation attorney drafting a Summons and Complaint about Lawsuit. The Summons and Complaint is the initial allegation stated by the plaintiff, which will then be served upon the defendant. The defendant then has the opportunity to reply to the charges, which can include a counter-claim against the plaintiff. The plaintiff then has the opportunity to respond to any claims that the defendant has stated in their response.
After the final pleadings have been filed, your attorney will then begin the most time-consuming portion of your case: The discovery process. The discovery process is where litigation lawyers develop their case strategy by gathering and examining evidence. Evidence can be physical and circumstantial, as well as testimony from witnesses. Your litigation attorney will then conduct interviews with potential witnesses, which may include interrogatories and depositions. Interrogatories are written questions that require written answers for documentation purposes, while depositions consist of witnesses being questioned under oath with the entire question and answer session being recorded by a court reporter. Depositions are incredibly useful for litigation attorneys, as they are often used to point out discrepancies and inconsistent information coming from witnesses. They can also be used as evidence in court instead of the physical presence of a witness who may not be present at a hearing.
Litigation Attorneys Represent Clients in the Pre-Trial and Trial Phases
The pre-trial phase is when litigation attorneys fine-tune their case strategies by retaining expert witnesses to present technical information to the court in an unbiased manner. This is also the time to decide whether to have your case heard by a Trial-by-Jury or to hold a Bench Trial. In the pre-trial phase, if a Trial-by-Jury is decided upon, representatives for both parties will interview potential jurors in an attempt to create a fair jury panel. If both parties favor a Bench Trial, they waive their right to have their case heard by a jury and instead opt to have their case heard, reviewed, and determined by a judge.
The trial process begins with representatives for both the plaintiff and the defendant providing the judge with a brief, which outlines the arguments and evidence that will be presented at the trial. Litigation attorneys will then present their opening statements to the judge and/or jury, which will be followed by opening statements from the defendant’s representatives. Evidence will then be presented to the court on behalf of both parties. After all of the evidence has been submitted, representatives for both the plaintiff and the defendant will present their closing arguments.
Final Judgment: Having a Litigation Lawyer Collect Awarded Damages
If a judge and/or jury rules in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant must comply with the ruling. If the defendant chooses not to honor the judgment, the plaintiff must enforce the court order through other means. Litigation lawyers can work on their client’s behalf by filing a Writ of Execution, which is a court order that enforces the monetary judgment against a defendant. A Writ of Execution may include the seizure of the defendant’s property by the sheriff, where it will then be sold at a sheriff’s sale with the proceeds going to the plaintiff to satisfy the judgment. Bank account and wage garnishments can also be used to collect monetary judgments, as well as filing property liens, which place the title to any real property under a freeze, in which the defendant cannot trade or sell until the judgment has been paid.