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What To Expect in Civil Litigation?

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Most legal cases fall into two general categories: criminal and civil. We all have a good idea of what a criminal case involves. A crime has been committed, law enforcement became involved, the defendant was apprehended, charges were filed, and the case goes to court. Television and movies are filled with this process, with “Law and Order” being our tutorial about it.

Civil litigation is a different animal, but the differences are more subtle than you may think. In civil cases, one party believes they were wronged, the other is alleged to have committed that wrong, and the dispute goes to court for a judge or jury to decide the extent of that wrong and how to right it.

Among the most common types of civil litigation are:

Personal injury cases. Think automobile accidents, slip and fall incidents, product liability, and wrongful deaths, just to name a few.

Intellectual property cases. Software and the Internet have led to a proliferation of intellectual property cases - who owns the code, who stole snippets of code for their own use, and such.

Employment cases. Unfair labor practices, wrongful discharge, for example.

Medical malpractice. Allegations of negligent acts by doctors that led to death, or disfigurement, or a failure to cure.

Divorce. Division of marital assets, who gets what, visitation rights with children, ongoing child or spousal support are all at issue.

In short, someone is alleged to have done something wrong, but not criminal, and the one harmed by that wrong sues for compensation. That dispute, also, ends up in court for adjudication, whether by a judge or a jury. A judgment is entered, and perhaps the disappointed party pursues an appeal.

The Elements of Civil Litigation

There are elements of civil litigation that are common to all cases, and they include the following:

Pleadings. These are the legal papers that are filed with the court to begin a civil claim, and they involve a complaint where the parties to the suit are identified, the nature of the claim is set forth (the wrong committed), the damages from that wrong stated, and the cure for those damages (usually money) being sought.

The discovery stage. This is where each party to the suit seeks to find out what the other plans to introduce at trial so that their cases can be adequately planned. The methods of discovery include interrogatories (written questions required to be answered in writing), depositions (oral testimony in front of a court reporter), requests for document production (financial documents, medical records, letters, emails, and such), and requests for inspection (visit a scene where the damage was suffered, for instance.

The trial. We all know about those from movies and television shows. Judge, maybe a jury, lawyers, plaintiff and defendant, witnesses testifying.

There is also the possibility of an appeal if the losing party is dissatisfied with the trial results. Those three are the common elements of civil litigation unless a case is settled by negotiation before trial.

If this all sounds complicated and involved, that’s because it is. There are detailed requirements imposed by law and the courts for each stage of litigation that goes to trial, and there are time requirements for the filings of papers at each stage. A failure to comply with those requirements could mean losing the right to continue and would constitute legal malpractice.

With decades of experience in civil litigation, we know these processes and requirements and have achieved substantial results for our clients in bringing cases to trial successfully. Let Blumsack & Canzano take care of them for you when you believe you have a claim to pursue.

Call for an appointment today at (857) 990-9060 and let us make sure the detailed requirements of all civil litigation are followed properly and give you the best chance possible of success at trial.



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