What is Civil Litigation?
Civil litigation may be necessary when two or more parties need assistance resolving a legal dispute through the court system. Civil cases vary from criminal cases in that parties may seek money damages or specific performance in contrast to criminal punishment like incarceration.
Attorneys who predominately work on civil cases are frequently called “litigators” or “trial lawyers.” These lawyers typically represent individuals or businesses at trials, hearings, arbitrations and mediations.
Examples of Civil Litigation Disputes
There are a large variety of civil litigation disputes. Some of the most common cases may deal with:
- – Contract disputes / breach of contract
- – Property disputes and/or damages
- – Family law disputes
- – Personal injury cases
- – Business disputes
- – Medical malpractice
- – Wills, Trusts and Probate
- – Commercial Litigation
Civil Litigation Phases
When attempting to resolve a civil dispute, there are several phases of the civil litigation process. The main stages of the civil litigation process usually include:
Initial investigation / assessment: The initial investigation phase often deals with gathering evidence to support or defend a lawsuit. This may involve taking witness statements, locating expert witnesses and researching facts to support or refute the dispute.
Pleadings: The pleadings phase often deals with drafting pleadings and motions on behalf of a plaintiff or defendant. For example, a civil litigation attorney may choose to file a motion to strike, motion for change of venue, and/or motion for judgment.
Discovery: During the discovery phase, an attorney may gather relevant information and identify key issues for argument in order to build his or her case strategy. This may involve taking depositions and/or making requests for production and admission.
Pre-trial: In the pre-trial phase, an attorney may question an expert witness and conduct pre-trial depositions of an opposing counsel’s witnesses or experts.
Trial: Most civil disputes are settled before the trial phase, but if a dispute is not resolved the trial phase can be a critical phase. A civil litigation attorney may select a jury, present arguments, cross-examine and more during the trial phase.
Settlement: A settlement may help resolve a civil dispute before the conclusion of a trial. During this time, lawyers may negotiate with opposing counsel and participate in mediation.
Appeal: If a civil case does not turn out the way an individual or business hopes, they may be able to appeal for a more favorable outcome.