The Basics of Civil Litigation

Civil litigation involves legal disputes that aren’t criminal in nature. These disputes often involve money or action and may be settled through mediation or trial.


Unlike criminal cases, civil trials are heard by a judge or jury. The plaintiff must convince the jury by a “preponderance of evidence” that the defendant caused harm.


The initial step in a civil case is the filing of a complaint. A complaint is a legal document that starts the suit by listing the plaintiff’s claims and asking for judicial relief. It is important for the complaint to have the proper legal format. It must include the jurisdiction where the lawsuit will take place, a statement of the parties involved and a brief description of the case. It also needs to have the name of the plaintiff and a brief statement about the damages suffered by the plaintiff.

After the complaint is filed, it must be served on all defendants by a process server. This is when you hear the phrase “you got served!” Depending on the court and jurisdiction, there may be rules about who can serve papers and the time period to respond.

If the defendant does not file an answer to the complaint within the allotted time frame, the plaintiff can apply for a default judgment against the defendant. The defendant’s answer should be a response to all allegations of the complaint including admitting, disputing or denying them. It should also include any counterclaims against the plaintiff and cross-claims against co-defendants.

The defendant has the right to have a lawyer present during the filing of the answer and any other proceedings. However, the judge will not provide any legal advice to a pro se litigant (those representing themselves). During the discovery process, the defendant has the right to request information from the plaintiff or witnesses. The defendant can also bring in their own expert witnesses to testify in the case.인천이혼전문변호사

During this stage, the plaintiff and defendant will exchange documents to support their arguments. This will include evidence, such as photographs, witness testimony and medical records. The plaintiff will usually also have to submit an affidavit or declaration by a qualified expert as part of the evidence.

Once the discovery process is completed, the judge will set a date for the trial in the case. The judge will issue a scheduling order that will lay out deadlines and important dates, such as when briefs must be filed.

There are many complicated steps to the litigation process. Failure to follow the procedures and meet deadlines can put you at an extreme disadvantage in court, which is why it is important to hire an experienced civil litigation attorney. A lawyer will ensure you adhere to all the requirements and that all paperwork is correctly completed and filed. They can also assist with the pretrial process by conducting research and preparing motions to be filed. They can even help you prepare your case for mediation if needed.


During this phase, both sides will share information through interrogatories and requests for admissions. They will also file pretrial motions that settle questions of evidence admissibility and procedural matters before trial. Often, this involves arguing that certain evidence should be kept out of the case, that a person must or must not testify and other similar issues. If a ruling on these issues would effectively end the dispute without a trial, it is called a dispositive motion.

A judge will hold a pre-trial conference to ensure both parties understand the issues at hand and the framework for presenting their cases in trial. The judge will also ask both sides to submit a memorandum or other document that will serve as their roadmap for the trial and help the judge prepare to hear the matter. During the pretrial phase, it is very important that both parties appear for all court-ordered hearings and comply with any rules or instructions on the preparation of memoranda or appearance at pre-trial conferences. Failure to do so could cost a party its right to bring or defend the suit, and it might even result in dismissal of the case.

Some types of civil cases, including claims for personal injury and workers’ compensation, are tried before a jury. In those cases, the jury must be convinced that something happened, but the standard is “by a preponderance of the evidence” instead of the higher standard of proof required in criminal trials, where facts must be proven to a reasonable doubt.

While the vast majority of civil cases are resolved before a trial through judicial order (for example, when the judge grants a dispositive motion), some continue to a trial. During the trial, both sides will present their arguments to the judge and jury and call witnesses to testify. After the trial, the judge will issue a judgment.

If either side is unhappy with the trial’s outcome, it can appeal the decision to a higher court. The court of appeals will review the case and decide whether there was a mistake in law or procedure that warrants overturning the lower court’s decision and ordering a new trial.

Civil litigation is a complicated process, and it’s important to have a lawyer who specializes in the type of claim you’re involved with. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the proceedings, from filing your complaint to the trial itself. If your claim is a civil tort, your attorney can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact a firm such as Sargent & Associates to schedule an appointment. The firm can handle many different types of lawsuits, including product liability, construction negligence, medical malpractice, personal injury and workers’ compensation.