Civil litigation is not a term that is familiar to everyone, although it is simple enough to understand. Civil litigation is defined as a legal dispute between two parties where no criminal sanctions exist. There are also several stages of civil litigation that every person should know.
The first stage is the pleading stage. This consists of filing a complaint against someone for some kind of wrongdoing that is not criminal. It is up to the court to decide whether the claim is substantial enough to proceed further. Defendants will usually file a motion in an attempt to dismiss the case, but that decision is ultimately in the hands of the court.
The following stage is the discovery stage. It is just as it sounds. It is a process of discovering evidence to prove each side's case. Either side can ask questions through depositions or interrogatories.
After the discovery stage, defendants will usually file a motion for a summary judgment. That makes the claim that the plaintiff does not have sufficient enough evidence to continue with the lawsuit. If the court rules on the side of the defendant, then the lawsuit is finished. If the court does not rule in favor of the defendant, then it is on to a trial.
Most times, both parties are sent to an arbitration hearing where a mediator will attempt to work out a deal between the two parties before having to appear in court. This can also be referred to as a settlement conference. If the two sides cannot agree, a court date is set and then it is off to a trial.
The time frame between filing a complaint and going to an actual trial could wind up being a rather lengthy one. Since criminal lawsuits rank higher in priority than civil lawsuits, there could be a lot of waiting involved.
Once the trial process has concluded, there is always the option to appeal the ruling. That could drag the lawsuit out even longer.
Each stage of civil litigation could be filled with quite a few complexities that the average person may not understand. That's why it's important to have an experienced litigation attorney working for you. John A. Hixson, Attorney at Law is proud to continue to serve residents of Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie in all kinds of litigation cases.