Maciel Law Firm

Civil Cases - What's Ahead

The First Step

The first step in suing against someone for damages is hiring a lawyer. Once you hire a lawyer, they will file a complaint with the proper court. You may also wish to hire an arbitrator, or a mediator, who might settle the issue without having to go to court.

The Next Steps


The court will then send a summons. It is a document which informs the defendant (the person you are suing) of the lawsuit against them and orders them to appear in court at a specified time. The defendant may respond by having an attorney answer to the complaint. Pleadings will take place next. This is where lawyers on both sides gather evidence to help their case.


Pre-Trial, the judge may have a discussion with both parties in a meeting to help clarify differences and prepare for the trial. If your case is very strong, the other side may offer a settlement. If there is no settlement, you will go to trial. Your evidence will need to meet the preponderance of evidence, a standard of proof that is required of you if you hope to win.


A jury or judge might hear the case. The plaintiff, you, will present their case first, then the other side will present. Then, both sides will summarize their cases. The jury or judge will then decide the case.

The Verdict

If you win, the other side must pay you. If you lose, then you get nothing and must pay court costs. If you believe the wrong outcome occured, you have the right to appeal the decision.