When you sue someone or bring a lawsuit against a company or an individual, you are starting the litigation process. Choosing to litigate a dispute is usually the measure of last resort. This process often happens after failing to come to an agreeable solution to the problem. During the litigation process, filing suit and sending a summons to the defendant is the first step. The defendant may choose to settle the lawsuit before it goes to trial. If settlement fails, the next step is to go to trial. When preparing for trial, it is important to have an experienced attorney to help you. The last step in the litigation process is actually going to trial. At trial you can present evidence as well as examine any witnesses. The final decision in the trial is in the hands of the jury or judge. This decision can be in favor of either the plaintiff or the defendant.
Filing Suit And Sending A Summons To The Defendant
The first step in litigation is to file the paperwork with the court. The heart of the court documents is the complaint. The complaint identifies who is involved with the lawsuit, what legal disputes are being litigated, and the facts, as alleged by the plaintiff.
Once the plaintiff files the paperwork to initiate litigation, the court will send a summons to the defendant. The summons provides a copy of the complaint as well as an answer deadline. That deadline is the last date the defendant has to respond to the complaint.
After receiving the summons, the defendant may choose to settle the lawsuit before it goes to trial. In many jurisdictions, the judge may send the suit to mandatory mediation. Mediation is where a neutral third party tries to negotiate an acceptable compromise.
If mediation fails, the next step is to go to trial.
Preparing For Trial
When going to court during the litigation process, it is important to have effective legal representation. If you do not already have an attorney for litigation, that is the time to bring one on. The attorney will prepare the case, depose witnesses, and make appropriate motions to the court.
While preparing for trial, the attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant will share information via formal requests. This is the process of discovery. Deposing witnesses, under oath, is another part of discovery. The information the witnesses provide during the litigation process helps the attorneys develop their cases more fully.
The attorneys can file documents with the court to clarify issues, resolve disputes, and even ask for certain evidence to be excluded. In some litigation, the defendant’s attorneys may file for a summary judgement. This motion asks the court to dismiss the litigation based on lack of merit.
Going To Trial
A trial can either be heard in front of a judge or a jury. If it is a jury trial, the attorneys will interview potential jurors and ask that certain individuals be excluded due to indications of bias.
During the trial itself, both sides have the option of presenting evidence. The plaintiff goes first. Each witness during the litigation process is called to the stand where the plaintiff’s attorney asks that person questions. Then the defendant’s attorney can cross examine the witness. The attorneys can present physical evidence to the court at the same time. This evidence includes things like contracts, product samples, and police reports. After all evidence is presented, the attorneys make closing arguments.
At this point, the final decision in the trial is in the hands of the jury or judge. This decision can be in favor of either the plaintiff or the defendant.
The losing party has the right to ask the judge to set aside the verdict based on errors in the trial. This party also has the right to file an appeal and request that another judge review the case for certain legal reasons.
Get Appropriate Legal Representation
If you are ready to file suit, or are already in the midst of litigation and need legal representation, contact us at Brown & Fortunato, P.C. Our attorneys have successfully represented individuals, small businesses and corporations in all types of litigation. Contact our office at (806) 345-6300. You can also connect with us on our Contact Us page. Our website offers a full review of our other practice areas. Feel free to visit our law offices at 905 S. Fillmore, Suite 400, Amarillo, Texas.