Procedures of Civil Cases
By: Sara Hall
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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