What You Should Know About Lawsuits and Civil Litigation

What you should know about lawsuitsLitigation is the term for any lawsuit brought before a court.  The term civil means that the lawsuit is brought by the party injured and not the state.  This generally means that a wrong has been committed but is not necessarily a crime.  Civil litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that is generally only able to seek money damages rather than criminal sanctions. These are private lawsuits regarding business entities and/or individuals.  Civil litigation encompasses a broad range of disputes. More specific examples of civil litigation are:

  •  Labor law
  • Patent litigation
  • Small claims
  • Divorce actions
  • Personal injury
  • Products liability
  • Condemnation/eminent domain
  • Business litigation
  • Tort claim
  • Trade secret litigation
  • Workers compensation

The Litigation Cycle

There are 7 typical stages of civil litigation:

  • Investigation
  • Pleadings
  • Discovery
  • Settlement
  • Pre-trial
  • Trial
  • Appeal

We say possible because not every lawsuit passes through each stage of litigation. The majority of lawsuits are settled out of court and if it does go to trial a verdict is rarely appealed.

Lawsuits can take anywhere from several months to several years to complete.  The more parties that are involved, the more complex the litigation can become and the longer it generally takes. The longest stage of civil litigation is the discovery stage, which includes witness questioning and answering, the exchange of documents, as well as written questions, known as “interrogatories.”

Filing a Civil Lawsuit

A civil lawsuit starts with a written complaint from the plaintiff.  After the complaint reaches the defendant, they respond with a written “answer.”  The answer is sometimes called a pleading.  The civil lawsuit is now officially “joined” and then the two parties engage in the discovery process.

Trial Lawyers and Litigation Skills

Civil litigation attorneys are known as a “litigators” or “trial lawyers.” Civil litigation lawyers prepare the lawsuit for trials, hearings, arbitrations and mediations.  Depending on the circumstances of the case, a civil litigation lawyer may even work out a settlement before anyone files a lawsuit.

Litigation practice requires certain skills and knowledge, including:

  • Knowledge of substantive and procedural law
  • Strong written and oral advocacy skills
  • Ability to find and access resources
  • Ability to synthesize complex legal and factual materials
  • Experience with legal research techniques
  • Ability to develop strong client relationships
  • Negotiation skills

Whether you are entering the civil litigation lawsuit as the plaintiff or the defendant, it is important to have a qualified and specialized civil litigation lawyer by your side.  The attorneys at Fisher Stark, P.A. have served the communities of Western North Carolina for over 50 years, including Buncombe County, Henderson County, Haywood County, Catawba County and Transylvania County.  We are accomplished trial attorneys and we will put our experience and resources to work for you.  Call today for a free case evaluation, 828.505.4300.

Last updated 7/5/2015