Legal issues happen to everyone at some point in their lives. And whether you’re a victim of a crime, you have contractual disputes, or someone sues you, you need to find a lawyer for civil litigation. But for someone new to the legal system, finding a lawyer can seem overwhelming.
So how do you begin your search for the best attorney to handle your civil case? You need to learn about civil law and litigation and understand the different types of cases. Here’s what you should know about civil litigation.
What is Civil Litigation?
Civil litigation is a legal term used to describe the process of settling disputes between individuals, organizations, or both. This is done through court proceedings or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. This can involve different types of legal disputes, including:
- civil lawsuits
- contract disputes
- disputes arising out of misunderstandings
- disputes over the ownership of property
It can also involve the collection of damages or other awards granted by the court. It is governed by local, state, or federal laws and regulations. In general, it follows the standard rules of civil procedure.
Steps Involved in the Process
The process involves many steps that parties must go through to settle a dispute. The parties must identify the issues at hand and determine whether litigation is the best way to resolve the dispute. Depending on the jurisdiction, one party, with the help of a law firm, needs to file a complaint with the court, which might include a summons and other related paperwork.
The other party will then be served with the complaint. The parties will engage in a discovery period involving obtaining evidence and testimony related to the dispute. This is followed by a period of written pleadings, motions, and a possible pre-trial conference.
Following the parties’ trial arguments, the court renders a verdict, and the jury or judge will decide who will win. Depending on the circumstances, either party can appeal the decision.
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Understanding the Potential Outcomes
Depending on the merits of the case, the outcome may be an award of monetary damages or an injunction preventing or requiring certain activity. It can also be a declaratory judgment settling the legal question at issue.
A party could face unfavorable outcomes such as:
- dismissal of the case
- defense verdict
- unfavorable settlement agreement
Cases may also be resolved through alternative dispute resolution. This can offer the advantages of saving time and money when compared to lengthy court proceedings.
The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Court Cases
Criminal court is used to determine whether an individual is guilty or innocent of an offense such as a felony or a misdemeanor. The burden of proof is much greater for criminal cases, as the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
For civil cases, the burden of proof is less, usually requiring only a preponderance of the evidence. Criminal cases tend to involve more stringent punishments, such as incarceration, while civil cases may result in a monetary award.
Generally speaking, criminal court is designed to punish wrongdoers, while civil court is designed to provide remedies to wrongs done.
Use This Guide to Help you Understand the Process of Civil Litigation
Civil litigation is a complex and ever-changing field. With this short guide, you now have a basic understanding of the civil litigation process. Move forward with the knowledge you just gained and make sure you understand the essential steps to successful litigation.
Consult an experienced lawyer if you face any legal issues. Don’t wait for a problem to escalate. Act now!