Working With Great General Attorneys

Understanding What Civil Litigation Is

by Maurice Moore

Civil litigation is a process designed to award compensation for losses and to compel certain actions when people have been wronged. It is different from simply filing a complaint because it entails moving forward with a lawsuit against the parties that are accused of being at fault. This article will take a look at what potential plaintiffs should understand about the civil litigation process.

Initiating a Suit

The first part of the process is informing the named defendant in the case that you intend to file a suit. Of particular importance at this stage is providing them with notice to collect and preserve documents and other forms of evidence that you'll want to look at later. By putting them on notice about these issues, you'll empower the court to impose sanctions at a later stage if anything is destroyed or otherwise poorly preserved from the date they've received notice.

The notice needs to be served the same way it would in other sorts of civil proceedings. This means you'll either want to have a process server to deliver the formal notice to them in person. Being able to document the serving of documents makes it impossible for the defense to claim they weren't properly notified.

Making Pleadings to the Court

Once both sides are aware a suit is boiling, the court will set a date for initial proceedings on the matter. Most defense teams will raise basic questions about whether a suit should be brought at this time. Especially of interest to the court is the question of whether the case is ripe. This refers to the idea that all major expected developments have happened and that all valid and reasonable remedies have been exhausted.

For example, a city that is suing a contractor over a construction project that has been endlessly delayed would be asked to show that the job is behind schedule. Likewise, they would have to show that the city has made an honest effort to compel the contractor to make things right.

Discovery of Evidence and Deposing Witnesses

Discovering documents is the meat of most civil litigation efforts. Both sides will be ordered to turn over all relevant evidence they have in the case. Similarly, they will be allowed to depose relevant witnesses. Oftentimes, the production of discoverable documents and the taking of depositions drive renewed settlement efforts. If a settlement can't be reached by the end of discovery, a trial will be scheduled.

For more information about the process or help with a case, contact a civil litigation lawyer