The Stages of a Civil Lawsuit
A civil lawsuit is a legal proceeding in which one party, the plaintiff, files a complaint against another party, the defendant, alleging harm caused by defendant. The lawsuit is filed in a court of law, and the plaintiff must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.The stages of a civil lawsuit are as follows:
- Filing the complaint. The first step to a lawsuit is for the plaintiff to file a complaint with the court. The complaint must state the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant, the facts that support those claims, and the relief that the plaintiff is seeking. It is wise to have the complaint prepared by or reviewed by an attorney experienced in that area of law.
- Serving the complaint. Once the complaint is filed, the plaintiff must serve it on the defendant. This means that the plaintiff must serve a copy of the complaint to the defendant, this is typically done through the sheriff or a process server.
- Answering the complaint. The defendant has a certain amount of time to file an answer to the complaint. In the answer, the defendant can admit or deny the plaintiff’s allegations, and can also raise any defenses that they may have.
- Discovery. Discovery is the process by which the parties to a lawsuit gather evidence from each other. This can include things like taking depositions, exchanging documents, and requesting medical records.
- Pre-trial motions. Before the trial, the parties can file motions with the court. These motions can ask the court to dismiss the case, to change the venue, or to order a variety of other things.
- Trial. If the case does not settle, it goes to trial. At trial, the parties will present their evidence to the judge or jury, and the judge or jury will decide the case.
- Appeal. If the losing party is not satisfied with the outcome of the trial, they can appeal the case to a higher court.
While the stages of a civil lawsuit can vary depending on the specific case, the general overview above is a good starting point for understanding how civil lawsuits work.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the stages of a civil lawsuit:
- The time limits for each stage of a civil lawsuit vary from state to state.
- The parties to a lawsuit can agree to waive some of the steps in the process, such as discovery or a trial.
- The outcome of a civil lawsuit can have a significant impact on the parties involved.
This article is provided as a general resource and does not constitute legal advice. Because each case is different, you should contact an attorney practicing in your state about your available options. If you reside in or conduct business in Florida, please contact the Orlando Litigation Lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your specific issues and options available.