Lauren's Law Firm
Beginning of Case
A plaintiff is the person who brings the case to court against another. The defendant is the one accused or sued in a court of law. The first step in a civil case is for the plaintiff's lawyer to file a complaint- the formal statement naming the plaintiff and the defendant and describes the lawsuit. After this, the court will send a summons telling the defendant of the lawsuit against them, and orders them to appear in court on a certain date and time. The defendant may respond or 'answer' to the complaint through their attorney, forming pleadings- the complaint and answer.
Each side's lawyers will begin to gather evidence for the trial, but firstly, the pretrial conference happens where the judge might have both the sides meet to clarify the differences and begin preparation for the trial. Instead of having a judge or jury settle the case, mediation may be used, in which a mediator is hired to solve settlements. Arbitration may also be used, which settles the case outside of the court which is legally binding and requires a witness. Arbitration and mediation may both be used to avoid being involved with the case unsettled for a long time. Next the trial occurs, where 6-12 jurors or a judge handles the case in court. Trial occurs if the parties do not settle. The plaintiff will present their case first, followed by the defendant. The preponderance of evidence is a standard set for the plaintiff in which they need to prove their evidence if they wish to win a civil case. Both sides will summarize their case and then the verdict, or decision will be made. If the plaintiff wins, the defendant has to pay. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff earns no money and has to pay court costs. If either of the parties does not agree with the verdict, they may appeal to a higher court in the chance to reverse the decision.