Civil litigation is a legal process that's designed to address a wide range of non-criminal matters. A number of fields of law are considered forms of civil law, including cases involving injuries, accidents, and contracts. The goal of pursuing litigation through the civil system is generally to recover damages or to compel a party to take or cease a specific action. Pursuing a civil case involves a lot of work, and here's what plaintiffs need to know.
Resolving Matters by Other Means
Litigation entails suing a person or an organization, and the courts strongly encourage parties to resolve matters between themselves. When you bring a case to court, one of the first issues you'll have to explain to the court is why the matter is ripe. This is the idea that the concerns arising from the dispute have actually reached the point that they deserve the attention of a judge and potentially a jury. For example, it may hard to prove a breach of a contract if a defendant hasn't been given sufficient time to fulfill the terms.
Pleadings and Complaints
If the court believes the time is right to discuss a matter, a complaint can be filed. The judge will ask the plaintiff to present the legal logic for their case in writing, and then the defendant will be given an opportunity to explain why they might feel the case isn't valid.
At this stage, the judge may still elect to dismiss the case. If the case is dismissed "with prejudice," this means the court does not believe there's any kind of case and wants to see it gone permanently.
If the case is dismissed "without prejudice," that means the court is open to the possibility of the matter being pleaded again under a different argument or at a later time. Generally, judges only dismiss cases with prejudice if they're convinced a civil litigation lawyer has failed to make important corrections to their arguments after being given reasonable time.
The Discovery Process
If the court lets a case go forward, discovery begins. Both sides are obligated to disclose all information and evidence they have to the others. If testimony needs to be gathered, depositions will be taken at this time.
The discovery process often pushes parties toward a settlement as facts come out. If a settlement isn't achieved by the end of discovery, the case will likely go to trial. For more information about civil litigation, contact an office such as Hart Law Offices, PC.