Civil Litigation Process
Litigation is the process of bringing, maintaining and defending a lawsuit. This process is very difficult, time-consuming, and costly. In addition, the entire process must comply with complex rules and regulations. The pretrial litigation process is divided into a pretrial and trial process. The pretrial litigation process can also be divided into several major steps. These steps include: pleadings, discovery, dismissals and pretrial judgments, and settlement conference.
The entire process begins when a party brings a dispute against another party to a court system. The party bringing the dispute or compliant is the plaintiff. The party on the receiving ...view middle of the document...
Once the summons and complaint have been served to the defendant, the defendant must file an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint. Just as the complaint, the answer is filed with the proper court and is served on the plaintiff. In the answer, the defendant will either admit or deny the allegations against him/her. If the defendant admits to the allegations on the complaint a judgment will be entered in the court against the defendant. If the defendant denies all or any allegations against him/her on the complaint the case will proceed. If the defendant does not reply to the complaint in predetermined period, a default judgment will be entered against the defendant into the system. This judgment will assume the defendant’s liability and order the defendant to pay any damages. Furthermore, the answer on the complaint can contain affirmative defenses such as self-defense.
If the defendant answering the complaint believes he/she has been injured by the plaintiff, he/she can file a cross-complaint against the plaintiff in addition to the answer. By filing a cross complaint, the defendant who is now called the cross-complainant, sues the plaintiff who is now the cross-defendant for damages or other remedies. If the defendant files a cross-complaint against the plaintiff the plaintiff must file a reply or answer to the cross-complaint. The reply given by the cross-defendant can also include affirmative defenses and must be to the original defendant through the court.
In many civil litigation cases, more than one person may have interest in the lawsuit. If this is the case, these persons may intervene and become parties to an existing lawsuit. In some instances there may be several separate lawsuits concerning a similar situation against one defendant. In this case the court will consolidate the cases into one case if it would not cause undue prejudice to the parties. An example of a case which a court may consolidate would be a commercial airplane crash which results in several injuries or deaths. In this case the court would consolidate all the lawsuit stemming from the affected persons against the defendant airplane company or manufacturer.
Taking from the above example, the affected persons can only bring lawsuit to the airplane company in a specified amount of time. This limited time period is called the statute of limitations. It establishes the period during which a plaintiff must bring a lawsuit against a defendant. After this period has expired the defendant will lose his or her right to sue. Typically, the statue of limitations will begin to run at the time of the incident in question. Both federal and state governments have set different statute of limitations for different lawsuits. Most statute of limitations last between one and four years.
The next step in the litigations process is called discovery. The term refers to a legal process during which each party engages in various activities to discover...