You've Been Served
in a Civil Case
Let's get started.
preponderance of evidence: in the civil cased there are rules used by all Courts that require the person bringing the charges to prove the case with a preponderance of evidence. This mean that you have to prove that the person you are accusing has had more than a 50% percent chance of actually committing the act or crime he is accused of. The defendant doesn't have to do anything to defend their case if the plaintiff fails to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. (http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/the-preponderance-of-the-evidence-in-civil-law.html)
verdict: there are general verdicts and special verdicts in a civil case. A general verdict means that the jury makes a decision for either the plaintiff or the defendant. If the verdict is for the plaintiff then the jury also decides the liability and money damages owed. A special verdict can happen when the judge feels there is a situation where the person bringing the charges is trying to get control of the decision. The judge gives questions to the jury and asked them to answer them based on the facts of the case. The judge uses the information to make the verdict.
appeal: both the defendant and the plaintiff can file an appeal to a higher court if they feel the decision in the case was not correct.
Roles / Process - Civil case is different than a Criminal case. The roles and who brings action against the other person varies a bit from a criminal case.
plaintiff: this is the person who is accusing someone of doing them harm or doing damage to something.
defendant: is the person who is being accused in the civil case of committing harm or damage to the plaintiff. (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Civil+defendant)
complaint:the plaintiff in a civil case begins by filing a pleading which is the complaint. The complaint must list all the claims against the defendant. It must list exactly what action or solution the plaintiff expects as a result of the complaint. The defendant has to respond to the complaint.(http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)
summons: is a document that informs you that a lawsuit has been filed against you. You must respond to the summons by the date and time listed on the document. The summons is served by a person who is authorized by the court. These people are called process servers. They are the ones' you see on tv that say "you've been served". (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-civil-summons.htm)
pleadings: these are written statements that are provided at the beginning of the civil case. The plaintiff submits the complaint and the defendant submits an answer to the complaint. (www.americanbar.org)
pretrial conference: This is a meeting that the judge calls with both the plaintiff and defendants attorneys. This is done to avoid wasting time during the trial on things that could be decided before it begins. This also is the time the judge and the lawyers decided what things can be disputed at trial and what can not. This is also when the lawyers tell who will be in court to testify. (http://www.fjc.gov/federal/courts.nsf/page/204)
Ways to settle a civil case..
mediation: is a process that helps reach an agreement in a civil case. A person is used to listen to both sides and helps to problem solve the solution. This process occurs in civil cases where someone is suing for money. This process helps avoid having to go to court.(www.cfrdmediation.com/faq.aspx)
arbitration: this process is between the plaintiff and defendant. It is informal and takes less time to get a decision. It cost less and is a privatef meeting - civil cases our public. Once the arbitrator is selected the process can move fast. In a traditional civil case the case may take awhile due to all the other cases being filed. The arbitrator acts like the judge and makes the decision. (alternative-dispute-resolution.lawyers.com/arbitration/arbitration-and-me)
Trial - a civil trial decides the outcome of a complaint filed by the plaintiff against the defendant. It is different from a criminal trial where there is a prosecutor and the defendant is being accused of breaking the law. The burden of proof is on the person who is bring the complaint. In a civil case the burden of proof is less than in a criminal trial. However, the plaintiff does have to prove they have a legitimate claim to be heard. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/civil_procedure)