Whether you're being sued or you're going to court in order to file a lawsuit, the process of civil litigation can be intimidating and frustrating. Understanding how the process works and what to expect can help save you time, money, and patience. Unlike criminal court, a civil case typically involves the need to obtain money from another party for various reasons without criminal prosecution. Usually, the suit involves a consumer filing against a company, or it is often a suit between two people who are seeking monetary restitution for any number of disagreements.
Starting the Process
If you want to file a civil suit, you must first go to your local court and ask for a summons. This summons will serve as official notification to the other party that they are asked to appear in court. The complaint must be filed via summons through the court, and then presented to the defendant in person. It is best to have a lawyer complete this paperwork so that the correct legal terminology is used. Once the defendant receives the summons, they are given a limited period of time to either settle out of court or contest the complaint in court in front of a judge or jury.
Preparing for Court
If you're suing someone, it's important that you have all of the documentation needed to substantiate your complaint before the court date. Keep all correspondence, receipts, and other information together and in chronological order. The judge will most likely ask to see documentation so that he or she can better determine the problem and the amount of money you're eligible to receive if the defendant loses. Before the court date, there may be an exchange of communication between both parties in writing. This can include questions or requests for documentation. This process is known as discovery. There may be options to settle the dispute out of court using mediation, but it is up to you whether or not you want to utilize this route.
While in Court
On the day of the civil trial, you should be on time and dress professionally. Be aware that the hearing may not come to a full resolution on the first day. Only speak when you're asked a question and do not talk out of turn. Show respect to the judge, jury, and the defendant at all times. Be honest and concise in everything you say so that your point is being made clearly. There may not be a jury, and ultimately it is up to both you and the defendant whether or not you want one. Once the decision about the civil litigation suit has been made, the defendant may still have an opportunity to appeal.
For more information, contact a civil litigation lawyer like Morgan Law PLLC.