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What steps do I take when dealing with a civil case?

There are many steps that are taken in civil cases which can make them very confusing, However, this brochure will guide you through these steps and will hopefully clarify any questions you may have had about civil cases.


The first step in a civil case is to file a complaint. In this step you, as the plaintiff (or person doing the suing), must name the defendant and the lawsuit against them.


The second step in a civil case is for someone to appear in court (not necessarily you) after being sent a summons. In this step, a person appear in court because you they either a witness or defendant of your lawsuit. Summons are sent in response to the complaint you filed in the last step.


In the third step, the defendant of your case can respond to your complaint with their own lawyer. If both sides of the case (you and the defendant) decide to answer the complaint at the same time, pleadings are exchanged in efforts to support their side of the case.


Several things can happen in the fourth step depending on weather or not the case is sent to court. If the case isn't taken to court, it can either be settled with a mediation (where the two sides debate and settle the case themselves) or with an arbitration (where a third party is brought in to resolve the case). If the case is taken to court, the fourth step is for the attorneys on both sides of the argument to meet in a pretrial conference. A pretrial conference is basically just an informal meeting before the trial.


The fifth step is the trial and only happens if the case is sent to court. In this step, the plaintiff and defendant argue their points in court to try and win the case. During this step, a preponderance of evidence may take place (which is where evidence is presented to a judge and he/she decides who it benefits most in the case). At the end of every trial, a verdict, or final ruling is given which defines who won/lost the civil case.


There is a sixth step, but it is only optional. It is to appeal to a higher court if you feel that your trail was unfair, or if you are unsatisfied with the results.