The litigation process can be quite complex since it involves a significant degree of detail from the start to the end. Things can be even more challenging if you are not represented by a competent attorney.
Unlike the common misconception that court processes only take a few days to complete, the truth is that the litigation process can take several months or even years, depending on the severity of the case, the number of witnesses, evidence, and other factors.
In fact, enforcing your constitutional rights through litigation should be the last resort after you have fully exhausted all alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation.
In this article, we shed light on the critical steps involved in litigation and what each one of them entails. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Step 1: The Incident/Injury
Everything in the litigation process starts with an injury or an incident. This is what triggers the whole process by giving rise to a potential claim.
For instance, you may be injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence. In such a case, you would be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Similarly, if you are a victim of medical malpractice, you can file a lawsuit against the negligent healthcare provider.
Other examples of incidents or injuries that may give rise to a legal claim include slip and fall accidents, assault and battery, defamation, breach of contract, etc.
Step 2: Hiring an Attorney
Once you have been involved in an accident or have suffered some form of injury, the next step is to consult with a personal injury attorney.
During the consultation, which is usually free, the attorney will review your case and give you an honest assessment of your chances of success. If they believe you have a strong case, they will represent you on a contingency fee basis.
This means that you will only have to pay the attorney’s fees if they win the case on your behalf. If you lose, you won’t owe them anything.
Step 3: Determining Jurisdiction
The first task that your attorney will handle on your behalf is to determine which court the case will be filed in. This is because different courts have different rules and procedures.
For instance, if you are filing a personal injury claim, the case will likely be filed in either federal or state court, depending on the facts of the case.
If the defendant is a government entity, the case will most likely be filed in federal court. On the other hand, if the defendant is a private individual or company, then the state court will probably have jurisdiction.
Step 4: Filing a Lawsuit
If you and your attorney decide to move forward with the case, the next step is to file a lawsuit. This is also known as “serving the complaint.”
The lawsuit will state the specific claims you are making against the defendant. For instance, if you are filing a personal injury claim, the lawsuit will allege that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence led to your injuries.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, the defendant will have a certain amount of time to “answer” the complaint. If they fail to do so, you may be able to obtain a default judgment against them.
Step 5: Discovery
After the defendant has answered the complaint, the next step in the litigation process is discovery. This is the phase during which both sides can obtain evidence from the other side.
For instance, you may request that the defendant produce any documents that are relevant to the case. Additionally, you may also take depositions of key witnesses.
Depositions are basically out-of-court testimony. They are usually conducted in the presence of a court reporter who will create a transcript of the testimony.
Step 6: Settlement Discussions or Mediation
At some point in the case, the affected parties may decide to try and settle the case out of court. This can happen at any point during the litigation process.
Settlement discussions can either be informal, or they may be conducted through mediation. Mediation is a process where both sides will meet with a neutral third party who will try to help them reach an agreement.
If settlement discussions are unsuccessful or the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case will proceed to trial.
Step 7: Trial
If your case is not resolved during discovery, it will proceed to trial. Both sides will present their evidence and argument to a judge or jury during the trial.
After reviewing the evidence submitted, the judge or jury will render a verdict. If they find it in your favor, you will be awarded damages.
Step 8: Appeal
If one of the parties is not satisfied with the outcome of the trial, they may have the option to file an appeal. This is a complex legal process that is best handled by an experienced attorney. It is important to hire the best appeal attorney in the town to get the remedy from appellate court.
Appeals can be lengthy and expensive, but they may be worth it if you believe you were wrongfully denied justice.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of success in your case.
These are the general steps involved in the litigation process. Of course, every case is different, and some cases may involve additional steps.
However, this should give you a good idea of what to expect if you ever find yourself in the position of having to file a lawsuit.
This article is written by Naphtal. He is the brand manager at Legal Giant and a highly experienced content writer. Legal Giant is a leading lawyer referral site with clients all over the U.S. When Naphtal is not working, he enjoys spending time with his son and exploring nature.