Civil Cases

Steps and Procedures

Step 1: Hire a Lawyer

A civil case involves a legal dispute between two or more parties. The person filing the case is the plaintiff, who is claiming to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions. The defendant is the person being accused of the crime. The first step in pursuing a civil suit is hiring a lawyer to carry out the proceedings. They are there to guide you, help you, and do everything possible to ensure that you win your case.

Step 2: File A Complaint

After hiring a lawyer, you are then supposed to file a complaint. A complaint is what initiates a civil law suit. It sets forth for the court a claim for relief from damages caused, or wrongful conduct engaged in by the defendant. The complaint's pleadings outlines all of the plaintiff's theories of relief, or causes of action, and the facts supporting each cause of action.

Step 3: Sending the Summons

The next step in this process is done by the court. They are responsible for sending a summons to the defendant. A summons gives the defendant information on when to appear in court on a given date, as well as the time. Failure to respond to a summons may result in judgement by default entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint.

Step 4: Response

For this step, the defendant must respond to the charges made against him/her. Their pleadings will include either filing an answer to the complaint, or filing a motion challenging some aspect of the complaint. The answer or motion to the complaint must be served to the plaintiff(s) and filed with the court.

Pretrial Conference

A pretrial conference is used to avoid wasting time during the trial on issues that can be decided before trial. In some jurisdictions, certain kinds of disputes must be referred to a third party that will try to facilitate a settlement. In mediation, the third party simply helps the plaintiff and the defendant reach an agreement. But in arbitration, reviews the case and listens to arguments before making a final decision that is binding for both parties.

Step 5: Discovery Phase

In the even that no one settles out of court, we move on to the discovery phase. During this phase, each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the opposing party by means of discovery devices. This includes requests for answers to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions and depositions, among other things.

Step 6: Going to Trial

This is the step in which both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, present their sides of the case in court. In simpler terms, they prove why their the ones that should win the lawsuit. In order for the plaintiff to win the civil case, there must be a preponderance of evidence, or in other words, there must be a certain standard of proof that must be met.

Step 7: Reaching a Verdict

In the last step of going through a civil case, a verdict will be issued by the court. A verdict is the final decision on the disputed issue. The court will either rule in favor of the plaintiff, or the defendant. Once the decision has been made, if the ruling was not in your favor, you have the right to appeal. Appeals are made for when the losing party believes something went wrong in the case. They can then ask for a review from a higher court.