Wilcher Law Firm

Court Proceedings for a Civil Case

Step One

The plaintiff decides to sue someone for things such as property disputes, contractor issues, divorce, negligence, personal injury, etc. The person or group being sued is known as the defendant.

Step Two

The attorney for the plaintiff then files a statement that names the parties and describes the nature of the lawsuit, known as a complaint.

Step Three

The court summons the defendant. This is a court request for their appearance in court, either because they are a witness or a defendant. They are informed to appear in court at a given date and time.

Step Four

Once summoned, the defendant sends response, either admitting they were guilty or giving reasons why they are not responsible. The complaint and the response/answer together are known as pleadings.

Step Five

The judge calls a Pretrial Conference where both parties meet to clarify differences and prepare for trial. The judge can also offer you a settlement if your case is very strong. If the parties do not settle, the case goes to trial. A jury of 6-12 people might hear the case or a judge alone.

Step Five Cont.

The two parties can settle a dispute through mediation before a trial occurs. This is where a third party facilitates the discussion and helps the two parties come to a consensus. Another settlement is an arbitration where a professional arbitration acts like a judge and settles the case by reviewing and solving the dispute. The decision will be legally binding on both parties.

Step Six

The next step is the official trial. The case is heard by a jury of 6-12 people. The plaintiff will always present their side first, followed by the the defendant. After each side has presented, a summary of both sides of the case is announced. The plaintiff must use enough correct and truthful evidence to persuade the jury or judge that the defendant must be responsible for the damages or harms caused. This is known as "A preponderance of evidence."

Step Seven

After all the evidence has been laid out, the jury or judge decides the decision in favor of one of the parties, known as the verdict. If the plaintiff wins the case, a remedy is set to pay compensation and replace lost earnings. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff receives nothing and are forced to pay court costs.

Step Eight

If in any way the plaintiff disagrees with the verdict set by the judge or jury, they have the opportunity to make an appeal to a higher court.