Civil lawsuits, also known as civil litigations, are cases that deal with non-criminal statutes and proceedings. These lawsuits arise due to disputes between two or multiple parties and are handled by the courts as entities different from criminal cases. When an individual or a business is brought to court as a defendant to civil litigation, they are at risk of being fined or jailed, or both. A civil litigation defense attorney represents the defendant in court and ensures they do not succumb to false claims and minimize the damage they suffer if the verdict goes against them.
An array of disputes between two parties when taken to court fall under the civil litigation category. A payment dispute between a landlord and their tenant, property dispute with neighbors are a few examples of civil litigations. Most civil litigations, however, can be classified under the following categories:
These disputes arise when two or more parties sign a contract and one or more of them fail to or deny fulfilling their obligations. The situation arises when the contract is drafted using unclear terms that raise contrasting expectations or when a party fails to meet the obligations due to a lack of resources or funds.
Civil litigations also include property disputes that involve cases about property ownership, encroachment, and property damages. A common property dispute that finds its way to court is differences between neighbors over alleged extension of boundaries for plantation or building structures.
One of the most significant categories of civil litigations filed in the US, torts are used by parties who feel they were physically, mentally, or emotionally harmed due to the actions of others. These civil litigations can take multiple forms, such as medical malpractice, personal injury, negligence, and nursing home abuse.
Similar to torts, class action lawsuits also allows prosecution of parties that may have harmed a person's physical, mental or emotional well-being. However, in this case, the individual is replaced by a group of people who have all suffered at the hands of a common party or alleged perpetrator. Common cases include distributing a faulty product that caused harm to multiple people or exposing multiple people to hazardous materials.
While most cases against federal, city, and state governments are settled out of court, the cases which end up in the court are labeled as civil litigations. A case where a plaintiff alleges that the city has harmed him or federal law or policy can be tried as civil litigation.
While every civil litigation is different, they all come to the court by following a common series of steps.
The process begins after the plaintiff files a pleading in the court. Pleadings are the documents required to be submitted by both the plaintiff and defendant to explain and elaborate on their side of the story. A plaintiff’s pleading is called a complaint in which they highlight the details and wrongdoings of the defendant and the course of action that they want the court to take against the defending party.
The defendant is then issued a notice where they are required to file a pleading known as an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint. In the answer, the defendant can present their side of the story or demand further clarification on the case.
In this step of the process, both parties invest time and resources to collect evidence to prove their story. Typically, attorneys from both sides come into the picture and handle the proceedings from here. Again, witnesses are brought in, documents are scrutinized, and other steps are taken to examine the situation in question and obtain as many pieces of evidence as possible.
Post the discovery process, a civil litigation enters the pre-trial phase, where negotiations between attorneys begin. Most cases are settled in this phase when both parties reach an agreeable settlement. However, out-of-court settlements are a more preferred form as hearings and trials can cost both parties dearly. In this phase, both the defendant and the plaintiff can use motions to ask the court to deliver judgment or get parts of cases dismissed before it heads to the trial.
If civil litigations are not settled during the pre-trial phase, they go to trial. The responsibility of delivering the judgment can fall on a jury or a judge, depending on the circumstances of the case. Before heading to the trial, both the plaintiff and defendant must provide briefs of their discoveries. They can then make opening statements, present witnesses and evidence to prove their argument, and finish with strong closing statements. The judge or jury in charge then takes note of all the pieces of evidence and witness testimonies to deliver the judgment.
Most civil litigation cases are settled through negotiations before or during the trial, as the deliverance of the verdict can take years.
Hiring a civil lawsuit defense attorney will benefit you in the following ways:
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