The lawsuit process can feel incredibly complex and overwhelming, whether you’re considering filing a lawsuit against someone else or if you’re the person being sued.
Lawsuits are usually based on torts, which is a fancy way of saying that, even if you or the person you’re suing didn’t outright break a law (like shooting a person while committing a robbery) they still acted in a manner that was negligent.
Their negligence caused someone to get hurt, lose money, and/or suffer emotional setbacks. This negligence can happen accidentally or intentionally — either way, a tort is grounds for a lawsuit.
During the lawsuit, you can collect punitive damages and/or compensatory damages. The former is meant to serve as a financial punishment, while the latter pays for care, pain/suffering, and more.
But how does suing work once you’re ready to take the matter to court?
Keep on reading this post to find out.
Table of Contents
Should You Settle out of Court?
The first step in the lawsuit process is almost always an attempt by either party to settle out of court.
This resolves the matter quickly and will cost far less than a trial. Most people end up settling out of court because they fear that their lawsuit could be disproven in court.
This means that, if you proceed to court, you need to be willing to walk away with nothing — including compensation for trial fees.
Depending on the state in which you live, you may actually be required to have a mediation or arbitration session with counselors and the other party to attempt to settle out of court.
The majority of cases end up settling out of court, as this is usually the better and safer option for the person filing the lawsuit.
In some cases — especially if you’re truly confident in the strength of your case and the potential payout — you may wish to proceed. If so, now is the time to start looking for a good attorney, if you haven’t already.
It’s Time to File
One of the most important reasons why you need to hire an Libertybell Law federal attorneys when you wish to sue a person or a business is because even the process of filing the lawsuit in court can be complicated and confusing.
It’s now time for the case pleadings, which is the beginning phase of your lawsuit.
Here, you and your attorney will compose the document/complaint that you’ll then file. Your complaint will outline the basics of your case, name those involved, outline your ideal outcome, and make legal references that will presumably strengthen your case in the court of law.
In most cases, the suit will be filed in state court. It may only go to federal court if someone who lives outside of the state where you’re filing the case is involved, and if you’re seeking over $75,000 in any form of damages.
If the compensation you’re looking to get is valued at less than $5,000, then you’ll most likely be tried in small claims court — this means you won’t have a jury or an attorney at your trial.
Once you’ve decided on the court and completed the complaint, your lawsuit will officially be filed in court.
You’ll also need to serve the service of process to the defendant — the person you’re taking to court. You’ll also give them a summons, which outlines how they need to respond and usually when they should appear in court.
Waiting on the Defendant to Respond
After the summons and the other documents have been served, the defendant has 30 days to respond.
They may give you an “answer,” which means they can deny either the whole claim or specific aspects of it. Usually, they wish to contest your filing in some way.
If they don’t give you an “answer,” then they’ll file a motion to the courts.
This means that the defendant wants to pose a new question to the court and the judge. These motions can be denied or approved by a judge.
Common motions include improper court venue, not having enough evidence, or improper filing procedures. The defendant can also — and very likely will — file a countersuit against you.
Then, it’s time to enter into the discovery process, where the judge hopes to learn more about the case, which is where evidence is collected.
Now, the actual trial process will begin — that is if the discovery period proved that there was enough evidence to take the case to court.
This period operates much like any standard trial, with witnesses, juries, cross-examinations, and more. You’ll also need to be prepared for the burden of proof, presentations of evidence, and much more.
As with any other kind of trial, your lawsuit may result in a hung jury.
But, if they are able to reach a verdict, the judge will then be able to determine the exact amount of the settlement you’re entitled to.
Understanding the Lawsuit Process Doesn’t Have to Feel Impossible
We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the lawsuit process.
The thing you should focus on the most is ensuring that you have an expert attorney on your side. Remember too that sometimes, it may be the better financial and personal choice for you to settle out of court.
Looking to understand more about what to look for in an attorney? Need advice about how to keep calm throughout the process?
We’re here to help. Keep checking back with us to make sure you don’t miss out.