Everybody should be knowledgeable about lawsuits to be prepared at all times. You or a loved one might encounter legal matters concerning family matters, work-related legal issues, administrative, civil, and criminal issues.
In this article, you’ll learn the important things to know about a lawsuit.
- Defining Lawsuits
A lawsuit refers to a legal complaint filed with the court by a victim (plaintiff) to a negligent person (the defendant). By filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff asks the court to intervene and order the defendant to compensate him for damage caused.
When filing a lawsuit, lawyers play a crucial role. For instance, slip and fall attorneys, such as those from Banville Law, helped victims injured by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) negligence.
- Types Of Lawsuits
Lawsuits fall into various categories with specific characteristics, including the following:
- Civil Lawsuits: This category of a lawsuit is filed when a victim sustains injuries due to a negligent party. Civil lawsuits are disputes raised by private parties. A good example is personal injury cases, including car accidents, product liability, and workers’ compensation lawsuits due to injuries sustained in operating heavy machinery and slip and fall accidents. These include medical negligence and nursing home abuse.
- Criminal Lawsuits: Criminal cases are acts against the state. Some examples include murder, fraud, manslaughter, burglary, and sexual offences.
- Difference Of Lawsuit And Litigation
Litigation pertains to legal proceedings initiated by opposing parties to defend or enforce a legal right. This legal process can be agreed upon and settled by both parties or heard and decided by a court judge.
Many people think that lawsuit and litigation are the same, using these terms interchangeably. However, a lawsuit is a part of litigation and pre-suit negotiation, facilitation, arbitration, and appeal.
- Jurisdiction and Venue
When filing a lawsuit, make sure to file it in a court with authority or jurisdiction to hear the case. Personal jurisdiction means the court has power over the person you’re suing (defendant). In contrast, subject matter jurisdiction means the court can resolve the legal issues of the case.
Venue is a separate legal concept involving choosing the court in a state that should hear your legal case. Rules exist in venues, preventing a defendant from bringing the case before an inconvenient forum. A plaintiff can file a lawsuit in any judicial district where the defendant conducts business or resides. For instance, a vehicle crash victim can file a lawsuit in the district where the crash happened.
- Lawsuit Process
Civil lawsuits proceeding in the following manner:
- Pleadings: Pleadings are initial papers that each party files to explain their side of the dispute. The plaintiff files a complaint describing what the defendant did, and the defendant receives a copy of the complaint and is given a reasonable amount of time to explain his side.
- Discovery: This is the longest part of any case, wherein parties gather information, including document review, legal research, and witness interviews. Discovery helps clients and lawyers study the merits of their claims and defenses. Before a court trial, the parties can use motions, asking the court to act or rule on such. For instance, a motion for summary judgment asks the court to dismiss all or a part of a case or defense, disposing of issues without trial. Any of the parties can request the court to order opposing parties to exclude or produce evidence.
- Trial: Before court trial, each party provides a brief to the judge, outlining the evidence and arguments to be used. Each party presents evidence during the trial, questioning and cross-examining witnesses.
- Appeal: After a court trial, the dissatisfied party can appeal, asking a higher court to review the court proceeding, subject to certain conditions provided by law.
- Alternatives to Litigation
Filing a lawsuit may involve a lengthy process when it proceeds to litigation. But, there are alternatives to litigation to save both parties’ time and expense, which include the following:
- Settlement: Both parties can reach a settlement before reaching the court trial stage. The settlement is cost-effective and can be discussed at any time during litigation.
- Mediation: It involves using a mediator or a neutral third party to assist in settlement efforts. A mediator helps parties determine the risks of the case. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator doesn’t have power over the parties.
- Arbitration: This is an adversarial proceeding wherein parties use an arbitrator or a neutral third party to resolve legal disputes. The arbitrator decides which party wins in this less formal version of a court trial called an arbitration.
There are different types of lawsuits, categorized into criminal and civil cases. Lawsuits are part of the legal process or litigation filed in courts with jurisdiction over the defendant and with authority to resolve the legal matters being raised. Not all lawsuits should result in litigation or trial. Parties can agree to a settlement, mediation, or arbitration to save time and money.