The term “civil litigation” or “civil lawsuit” encompasses any formal dispute in which one party is alleged to have committed a legal wrong, but not a crime. Unlike a criminal case, in which the government is always one of the parties, civil litigation most often involves disputes between private parties. The term “civil litigation” includes, by way of example:
- Personal injury cases ( e.g. motor vehicle accidents, defective products, falls)
- Employer-employee disputes ( e.g. discrimination, wrongful termination)
- Defamation and invasion of privacy ( e.g. libel, slander, intrusion upon seclusion)
- Owner-contractor disputes/construction law ( e.g. moisture intrusion, mechanic’s liens)
- Consumer-business disputes ( e.g. breach of warranty, consumer fraud)
- Real estate-related disputes ( e.g. landlord-tenant disputes, boundary disputes, foreclosure, cancellation of contracts for deed, unlawful detainer actions)
A civil lawsuit begins with the service of a Summons and Complaint. The party who serves the Summons and Complaint is called “the plaintiff” and the party upon whom the Summons and Complaint is served is called “the defendant.” Typically, the plaintiff seeks to recover monetary damages from the defendant. The defendant is required to respond to the Complaint by serving an Answer.
After the defendant serves its Answer, the plaintiff and the defendant usually engage in a process called “discovery.” There are two types of discovery: written discovery and depositions. Written discovery involves the exchange of documents and information. Depositions are examinations of witnesses that are conducted under oath, recorded by a court reporter, and are typically scheduled following the completion of written discovery.
Once discovery is completed, the court typically requires the parties to attempt to resolve the case through a form of “alternative dispute resolution” – often mediation. Mediation is a process by which a mutually agreeable and independent third person – usually an attorney with experience practicing in the area that is the subject of the dispute – attempts to help the parties reach a negotiated settlement.
The vast majority of civil lawsuits end with an out-of-court settlement – often reached in mediation. Other cases are dismissed in response to a motion made by the defendant. Cases that do not settle and are not dismissed will ultimately be tried by either a judge or a jury.
The attorneys at Leiran Law Offices are capable, experienced, and affordable litigators who will work tirelessly to protect your interests. We will competently handle any civil matter for $150.00 per hour (we encourage you to shop around for a lower rate) or on a contingency basis (personal injury cases only). If you are involved in a civil dispute, contact us today to schedule a completely free, no-commitment, 30 minute consultation during which we will provide you with an initial evaluation of your claims or defenses.