Civil Lawsuits begin when one party files a lawsuit against another party to obtain money or to obtain a court order facing someone to do something or refrain from doing something. The process and length of time for California civil lawsuits depends but it usually begins with an initial consultation with an attorney. An experienced lawyer will sit down with the client to determine the factual background of the claims of the client or the client’s defense to a claim advanced by another. The lawyer will review all relevant documents and research the applicable laws to identify next steps. The next is to file a complaint (lawsuit). After the complaint is served on the defendant, the defendant typically has 30 days to “respond”.
After the defendant has filed an answer, the case is “at issue” and the litigation process continues and at this point, discovery ensues. This process allows for both sides to investigate the case, as well as force the other side to provide supporting evidence for the claims and/or defenses asserted. This is the time lawyers will look at written documents, interrogations, subpoenas to third parties, etc. This is also the time that oral testimonies may take place.
The fourth step is the trial. It may be in front of a jury or a judge and can vary in length depending on the number of witnesses, parties and complexity of the case. The plaintiff’s case goes first and then the defendant has the opportunity to respond to the plaintiff. The plaintiff will have an opportunity to put on a rebuttal case, and subsequently, the defendant can offer a sur-rebuttal to reply. Afterwards, the jury or judge, after deliberation, will return a verdict, which determines which party is liable based on the causes. If you find yourself entering a civil lawsuit, it is imperative you contact an attorney who can help you.