What is Litigation?
Litigation officially begins once a plaintiff files a formal complaint with the court system. This formal complaint is known as a lawsuit. Most often, litigation is undertaken when the plaintiff or the individual filing the lawsuit finds grievance or injury in the actions of the defendant (the individual being sued by the plaintiff). The defendant is provided a list of actions or requests that will absolve these wrongdoings, which can then be monetary sums or other restitution. However, defendants don’t have to take these actions. Lawsuits can be filed in a variety of areas to help settle disputes. Here at Jenkins Law Firm, we provide legal counsel and assistance with litigation, concerning everything from bicycle injuries to allegations of nursing home abuse. To see our full list of services and book a consultation, contact Jenkins Law Firm at (602) 283-9868 or visit us online at www.thejenkinslawfirm.com.
How does it work?
Once a lawsuit is filed, the attorney guides his or her clients through the many steps that have to be taken. A common misconception about litigation is that it is synonymous with trial work. The litigation process begins before the first witness has even been called to testify. In reality, a large majority of litigated cases never reach the inside of a courtroom. Most of the work to prepare the case happens outside the courtroom. If you are considering legal action, it is best to understand the litigation process your case will require before proceeding.
- Talk it out: The initial step in any dispute is for both parties to meet and attempt to resolve the conflict. Discussing the matter directly with one another has the potential to fix the issue in a quick and cost-effective manner. If a resolution cannot be reached via this method, it’s time to try step two — finding legal counseling.
- Lawyer Up: After finding an appropriate legal representative for the disagreement, it’s time to take a break. The attorney will investigate the issue and examine the facts at hand, where some are provided by their clients. After adequate research is completed, the attorney will send the other party a letter detailing the terms which will resolve the matter. These terms can often be related to money: payment for medical bills, the cost of replacing a vehicle, financial recompense of emotional grievances, etc. Sometimes, these terms can include other demands, such as terminating a certain activity, i.e. illegal use of private property. The other party can respond in a number of ways; agreeing to the terms marks the end of the dispute, while refusing the terms or putting forward their own can lead to further legal action.
- It’s Official: If initial negotiations cannot resolve the conflict, then a formal lawsuit may be filed by one of the parties. This is when having an attorney on your side becomes vital. The technical process of officially filing a lawsuit is extremely complex. Even tiny errors can affect the outcome of a case, so having proper legal counseling on your side is an important step in the litigation process. For instance, certain personal injury claims have a statute of limitation of 12 months. Failure to file suit during this time frame will prevent the plaintiff (you) from ever receiving just compensation. The Jenkins Law Firm has many knowledgeable attorneys who understand the complicated process of litigation. Our lawyers can help you avoid these mistakes and get you the compensation your grievances deserve. Their experience and attention to your personal needs make them a great choice if you are considering taking this step in the litigation process.
- Discovery: Not long after the lawsuit is filed, both parties will conduct discoveries, which are the mandatory exchange of documents and other vital information pertaining to the case between the two parties involved. Discovery will usually represent the bulk of the litigation work performed throughout the entire case. This part of a case can be very expensive and tedious.This is why it is important that you don’t jump into litigation without understanding if it is right for you.
- Trial: At this point in the case, a variety of things can happen; motions can be summoned to call the legality of the case into question. Can you really sue someone for this reason? Is what this person did actually illegal? Does the case have merit? The case can go to trial if a compromise cannot be reached. With the pretrial stages of litigation, it can take years before a lawsuit even reaches trial. Once it does, it will be overseen by a judge or a jury. This is when witnesses will be called to testify, evidence will be called forth, and the attorneys for both sides will present argument to the court. The plaintiff will either be granted or denied his or her demands based on the outcome of the trial.
This is not a checklist. There are numerous variables to each case and each conflict. Litigation ends once a settlement is reached. This means that your case can reach all five steps or end before reaching the second. Your case is unique, and we are here to help you every step of the way.
Time is Money
What many people often don’t realize is that there is an expiration date on litigation. In the state of Arizona, you have up to 10 years to file a lawsuit regarding the recovery of real property in adverse possession and use by possessor and only one year for consumer fraud.
What if I lose?
Once a final decision has been made at trial, the losing party may appeal the decision within a specified period of time. The time frame within which an appeal may be filed depends on the issue under litigation and the state or court overseeing the matter. Both Federal and state courts have intermediate courts of appeal that oversee most of these civil appeals.
Is litigation your best option?
It is important to remember that not every conflict requires a lawsuit. Some issues, such as property sales and estate planning fall under “transactional law” rather than litigation. A lack of controversy or a presence of consensus means that the issue cannot rightly be described as litigation because there is no potential for a lawsuit. But just because your dispute is small doesn’t mean you don’t need an attorney. An experienced litigator, such as our attorneys at Jenkins Law Firm, can give you the upper hand. The presence of a lawyer can help both sides take the conflict more seriously. Having a Jenkins lawyer on your side is an invaluable resource to have when facing litigation. If the case does proceed to court, we will be there, fighting for you and your rights every step of the way. For a legal consultation on your case, contact us at at (602) 283-9868 or visit us online at www.thejenkinslawfirm.com.