Westra's Law Firm

Procedures of Civil Cases

Step One:

Hire a lawyer to file a complaint with the proper court. A complaint is a formal statement naming the plaintiff and the defendant and describes the lawsuit. The plaintiff is the person suing and the defendant is the person being sued. The court will then send a summons, which tells the defendant of the suit against them, and orders them to appear in court on a certain day and time.

Step Two:

The defendant could respond to the charges by having their attorney answer to the complaint. The lawyers of the plaintiff and the defendant will gather evidence to aid their cases, and the lawyers will exchange pleadings. Pleadings are the complaint and answer together. They can also use mediation, with a third party helping the parties reach an agreement. Or they can use arbitration, which is when they use an arbitrator to settle a dispute.
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Step Three:

Pretrial conference: the judge may have both sides in a meeting to help clarify differences and prepare for the trail. Or if someone has an extremely strong case, they might offer a settlement.

Step Four:

If the parties do not settle, the case goes to trial. At the trial, there will be a jury of 6-12 people or a judge could hear the case alone. The plaintiff will present their side, then the defendant will present their side. Then both sides will summarize their cases and the judge or jury will decide the case. The preponderance of evidence should be in the favor of the plaintiff in order for them to win their case, since this would mean that the greater amount of evidence is from the plaintiff.

Step Five:

The verdict is the decision. Either the defendant will lose and have to pay, or the plaintiff will lose and have to pay court costs. If one does not like the verdict, they can appeal the decision, if they feel the wrong decision has been made.

Step Six:

Appeal