Procedures of Civil Cases

By: Sara Hall

Step 1

  • The plaintiff, the person who brings a case against another, files a complaint
  • A complaint is a formal statement naming the plaintiff and the defendant and describing the lawsuit
  • The defendant, an individual, company, or institution sued or accused in a court of law, then receives a summons (informs them of the suit & time and date of court appearance).

Step 2

  • This is where the defendant's lawyer responds to the charges
  • The pleadings are the complain and answer put together

Step 3

  • During the pretrial conference, both parties are brought together to define the issues to be tried
  • It's during this stage that there can be mediation or arbitration, both of which are used to resolve a dispute through a third, objective person/party.

Step 4

  • If the parties do not settle then the case goes to trial
  • In a trial, both sides present their case and either a jury of 6-12 people or a judge alone will hear their case
  • The plaintiff will present its side first

Step 5

  • After both sides have presented the judge or the jury will decide on the verdict, or final decision
  • If the plaintiff wins, the defendant must pay
  • If the defendant wins, the plaintiff will get nothing and will have to pay court costs
  • For a side to win, they must of the preponderance of the evidence, which is the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil lawsuit for the jury or judge to decide in favor of one side or the other

Step 6

  • If the losing side does not agree with the verdict or feels like the evidence wasn't presented correctly, they can appeal
  • By appealing, the side sends the case to a higher court for a reversal of the decision of a lower court