Many people are exposed to civil litigation through popular legal drama shows on TV or at the movies. Others are exposed to the civil litigation process because they have been called to jury duty and have gone through the process of jury selection. Some of the people called to jury duty get excused from jury service; while others are asked to sit on a jury. The jury’s main function is to listen to the evidence and make factual determinations surrounding the dispute and issues in controversy by applying the law to the case circumstances.
An even smaller group of people sue a person, business, or corporation or are sued by a person, business, or corporation. Whether you are contemplating filing a civil lawsuit or have been served with a civil lawsuit, the general civil litigation lawyers in Alabama, at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC provide representation in litigation of commercial disputes, business transactions, professional malpractices cases, labor and employment disputes, contract disputes, and other controversies.
The parties – A party who initiates a lawsuit is called a plaintiff; while the party that responds to the lawsuit is called a defendant. Parties can be individuals, partnerships, sole proprietorships, corporations, or limited liability companies.
Commencement of lawsuit or pleadings – A lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a complaint in court and serves the complaint on the defendant. A complaint is a legal document that sets forth the factual allegations of the case and the relief or outcome the plaintiff requests from the court, including a jury trial. A bench trial is a trial where the judge makes the factual and legal determinations of the case.
The defendant files an answer in court and serves it on the plaintiff. An answer is the defendant’s response to the lawsuit. The defendant agrees or disagrees with the factual allegations, can cross-sue or request another party be bought into the lawsuit to share in the responsibility of the dispute or ask to dismissed from the case, among other remedies.
Discovery – During the discovery phase, the parties request and provide documents and information about the issues in the lawsuit. Additionally, depositions are taken. A deposition is an examination or questioning of a witness important to the claims or defenses of the case.
Written motions – When the discovery phase is complete, the attorneys often make motions, or written requests, asking the court to decide parts of the case or all of it. In this phase, issues get narrowed down by dismissal or judgment. If triable issues of fact or law remain, the case proceeds to trial.
Trial – At trial the parties present evidence in support or their position or defense of their position. The jury or fact finder listens to the evidence and makes determinations regarding the disputed facts. Witnesses are questioned and cross-examined, experts presented to review technical issues of topics in depth. The jury reviews the evidence and receives instructions from the judge regarding the law and renders a verdict, or decision.
Post-verdict – A party may dispute the jury verdict and request one of several court actions like an appeal of the verdict, a motion for a new trial, or a motion to reconsider the verdict prior to the verdict becoming final. Generally, parties have 30 days to file an appeal of the verdict or lose the right to appeal the decision forever. After the trial court, there is a court of appeals and then the Supreme Court of Alabama.
Outcomes in litigation matters are difficult to predict. The disputed facts are weighed against each other by a preponderance of the evidence, and not all of the evidence. It is important to seek the counsel and advice of litigators in general civil litigation matters to set forth the best legal strategy in support of your claims and prudent defense of your disputes.
The attorneys of Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC, have experience providing clients with advice and counsel on all phases of general civil litigation including labor and employment matters, commercial contract distributes, business transactions disputes, product and tort liability, class actions, regulatory enforcement, and more. We’re ready to discuss your potential litigation situation and help you plan accordingly.
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