When two or more parties become engaged in a legal dispute over specific performance or money rather than a criminal act, civil litigation is the result. This typically takes place in a courtroom with a judge and jury deciding.
This process requires the services of an experienced attorney to represent his client through the many stages and activities such as pretrial hearings and depositions, arbitration or mediation before administrative agencies or the court.
Civil litigation covers a broad range of disputes including:
Construction liability lawsuits
Educations law disputes
Employment and labor disputes
Workers’ compensation claims
Civil litigation occurs in several stages, including investigation, pleadings, discovery, pretrial proceedings, potential settlement or trial, and even appeal. Discovery typically requires the most labor-intensive effort and is therefore often the longest stage of a case. Discovery includes the exchange of information pertinent to the case through depositions, interrogatories, and subpoenas.
Deposition questions are posed orally under oath. Interrogatories are written questions.
Not every lawsuit passes through each stage — in fact, most don’t. The majority of lawsuits are settled by agreement of the parties and never reach the courtroom. Parties can settle during a trial, even after a jury has begun deliberating or has delivered a verdict. They can settle or “stipulate” to some aspects of the lawsuit, leaving others in the hands of the judge or jury.
When a case does go all the way to trial, the entire process, from filing documents with the court to initiate the case through resolution, can take anywhere from a few months to several years.