Civil litigation occurs when two or more parties become involved in a dispute that cannot be resolved through other means. To be classified as civil litigation, as opposed to criminal, one party has to be seeking money or fulfillment of other duties owed rather than criminal sanctions. This type of legal matter must also be handled in the courtroom for trial where a judge handles the final decision. Two processes that can be used to help guide the case towards settlement, avoiding the expense and time of going to court, are arbitration and mediation. Both methods use a neutral third party to oversee the process, and they both can be binding, but mediation is typically used as a non-binding resolution, whereas arbitration is usually binding.
Civil litigation cases have a number of steps they must proceed through to get a final decision from a judge. These steps typically include investigation, pleadings, discovery, pretrial proceedings, potential settlement or trial, and even appeal, but can vary depending the case and proceedings. The step that is usually most helpful to have an attorney work with you is the discovery phase. This phase includes the exchange of information relevant to the case through depositions, interrogations, and subpoenas. When a case does go all the way to trial, the timeline can vary greatly from a few months to several years. Because the timeline can be long and the process can be unpredictable until a judge delivers a final decision, it’s crucial to understand the full breadth of options you have before starting on a civil litigation path.
It’s also important to know that not every lawsuit passes through the stages listed above. In fact, most civil litigation cases are resolved through settlement by agreement of the parties before they ever reach the courtroom. This can save a vast amount of time and money by avoiding the lengthy process of a trial. To understand your options and what would be best for your case, we suggest contacting one of our experienced civil litigation attorneys for a free consultation. When representing clients in pre-litigation and litigation situations, our experienced civil litigation attorneys work aggressively and intelligently to resolve the case as quickly as possible. We have experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and are confident we can represent your needs at a fair price with no sacrifice in quality.