To win a civil lawsuit case, there are many steps lawyers and plaintiffs have to go through. In essence, the one thing a lawyer needs to win a case is to prove “preponderance of evidence” that supports your complaints. To effectively do this, an experienced lawyer will help you understand the pre-trial procedures, gather all the evidence, hire related experts, and best prepare your case for a successful outcome. At LJW Legal, our attorneys are with you every step of the way, and you can trust they’ll work tirelessly to achieve the greatest possible outcome for your case.
Why You Need Civil Lawsuit Lawyers
First of all, you have to make sure you’re choosing the right lawyer for your case. Civil lawsuits can often be complicated and require attorneys with the knowledge to proceed through the legal processes to win your case. At LJW Legal, during your complimentary consultation, we make sure you’re paired with the right attorney for your case.
Even if you believe you can file the complaint form on your own, working alongside an attorney, who will guide you through the process, work with you to get ready for pre-trial appearances and help you understand the discovery stage, is imperative. As you get ready to meet with your potential attorney, make sure to:
- Bring any documents relevant to your case
- Ask for an explanation of all the fees and cost associated
- Ask about their experience with these type of lawsuits
- Be open about all the facts relevant to your case
- Choose an attorney that can answer all of your questions
How to File a Lawsuit
Civil lawsuits follow different timelines based on the type of lawsuit in question. There are countless ways you could find yourself in court, and the process to file a car accident lawsuit, versus a torts claim suit can be very different. However, in essence, every lawsuit will follow a similar timeline to the one outlined below.
File a Complaint
Once you’ve found a lawyer, the plaintiff (you) will file a complaint and summons with the local county court. The complaint explains the reasons why the plaintiff is suing the defendant and outlines what it wants in return. The summons tells the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against them and when a response must be made.
Wait for an Answer
Usually, the defendant has about 20 to 30 days to answer the complaint. Here, the defendant often explains their defense in response to the claim. If the defendant fails to file an answer under the deadline set, the court will enter a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff. This means you win automatically, without having to prove the defendant did anything wrong.
The defendant can still go to court and ask for the default judgment to be “set aside” so that the lawsuit can proceed.
The Discovery Stage
Once the lawsuit is officially filed, both parties start the discovery process to gather information about the case. This is a critical stage as both parties are seeking every possible bit of information related to the lawsuit. In most cases lawyers from both parties resort to:
Interrogatories: written questions that must be answered under oath
Deposition: in-person, but out-of-court sessions where one party answers questions, also under oath, and the interview is recorded in transcripts or video
Request for production: both parties exchange documents related to the dispute
At the same time, while the discovery process is happening, parties usually go before the judge to ask for more evidence. In this case, a motion to get a subpoena of a crucial witness, or any motions that will offer one party some relief.
Some lawsuits end at this point, as both parties can reach an agreement and reach a resolution to the lawsuit.
Go to Trial
If the parties can’t settle, then the lawsuit moves on to trial. Usually, a trial is set before a jury, that will determine the verdict. A trial can also be before a single judge, which is also called a bench trial. Trials can go in many directions, but what happens in a civil case? The usual process goes like this:
- The jury is selected
- Each party offers an opening statement to explain their side of the case
- Each side presents their evidence and calls its witnesses to testify
- Each side makes a closing argument in a last effort to convince the judge or jury
- In a jury trial, the judge gives instructions regarding the applicable law and evidence that the jury must consider
- Then the jury holds deliberations to reach a verdict
- In a bench trial, the judge reaches a verdict
Once the trial ends, the judgment is, in fact, the court’s official announcement of the decision. It also states what relief, if any, the plaintiff is given, which often comes in the form of a specific dollar amount.
Average Length of the Process
Civil lawsuits are often lengthy, and these are set to trial a year or 18 months after being filed. While most people think this is too long, in reality, it’s the average length of the process.
- For example, once the lawsuit is filed, the opposing party has up to 30 days to answer the complaint.
- The discovery process takes between 20 to 30 days to answer and produce the documents they’ll want to obtain during this stage. However, the judge can give both parties up to 6 months to complete this process.
- Depositions take between 2 to 4 months to complete.
- About 90% of civil lawsuits go to trial. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks, depending on the issues being litigated.
- Finally, after the verdict is given, the losing party can choose to appeal to a higher court. This means the entire process can start again, setting you back another year or so.
Steps to Winning Your Case
To win your case, the lawyers at LJW Legal know exactly what needs to happen. From the first interaction with your lawyer to the extensive research process during the discovery stage, working alongside the right attorney will make all the difference.
Step 1: Find the Right Lawyer
See how we don’t say, “find a lawyer.” At LJ law, we pair our clients with the right attorney based on previous experience, the type of lawsuit, and their expertise. Once you find the right lawyer for your case, you’ll instantly have an advantage the other party won’t.
Step 2: Participate in Pre-Trial Preparations
As we previously said, 90% of civil lawsuits end up in a trial court. Make sure to attend all scheduled meetings with your attorney. These are there to discuss your case more deeply and prepare you for depositions and trial pleadings.
Step 3: Assist During the Discovery Stage
Once your case enters the discovery stage, your attorney will probably meet with you to discuss and answer any written questions you receive from the other party. Your attorneys will also be part of many of these meetings, so they can assist you with responses or let the other party know when their questions are out of range.
Step 4: Be Ready for Trial
All of the previous steps were all necessary to help you be ready for trial. Once everything has been set and done, it’s now up to your attorney to help you win this case. Everything you’ve both done together will serve to reach the best possible outcome from your case. You also need to be prepared for a trial and be ready to testify, if needed. Remember, your attorney will work with you before the trial to make sure you feel prepared and confident.
Keep in Mind
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a crime and deserves to seek out compensation for the damages, a civil lawsuit might be the way to obtain the compensation you deserve. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an attorney to discuss your complaint. At LJW Legal, you can schedule a complimentary and confidential case evaluation session to go over the points of your complaint and see if filing a civil lawsuit is your best option.