What is a civil litigation lawsuit and how does it work?
A civil litigation lawsuit is typically between at least two private parties and usually involves some kind of dispute.
A civil litigation lawsuit can occur between neighbors, small businesses, large businesses and vendors, manufacturers, or customers, corporations, or partnerships. They can be simple straightforward disputes or they can be complex disputes that take years to resolve.
If a civil litigation case reaches court they are presented before a judge. Each side presents evidence to argue their side of their case and then a judge makes a decision on the matter.
Many civil cases never reach the court stage. They are often resolved outside of court between attorneys or with a mediator because the process of civil litigation is expensive. Most small businesses cannot afford to fight for their case in court. Many large businesses and corporations, on the other hand, have legal teams and often use that to their advantage to drag civil cases out in order to make the other side settle for less.
There are three stages of a civil litigation lawsuit:
- Pleadings: Each side outlines their complaints and sends it to the opposing party. These pleadings present each sides view on the matter and what they would like from the opposing party.
- Discovery: This is where each party can request documents from the opposing parties so that they can gather witnesses and evidence to strengthen their side of the case.
- Court: At this stage both parties must appear in court and their attorneys must argue their case before a judge.
Extra definition to know includes motions: Motions can occur at any point in the process. These are requests the one party makes asking the court to grant some type of relief.
Even if the civil claim goes all the way to trial, the parties can still attempt negotiations at any time. Often settlements are reached due to the unpredictability of a trial case.