What is the legal process in filing a Lawsuit?

The legal process or litigation is the procedure in filing a lawsuit against someone. It’s also important to be aware of the time limit when filing a claim.

Pre-litigation

Pre-litigation is the first step in the process. Basically, it’s deciding who to sue, what to sue them for, and how much the compensation is.

Drafting the claim

The plaintiff decides to sue a party for injuries received. Working together with his lawyer, he writes the writ of summons, the official document that signals the start of the legal process, and the statement of the claim, the document containing the allegations, facts and the amount of the claim.

Service of Process

The writ and statement are then filed at the court, and the copies are then delivered or served to the defendants.

Appearance

The defendant responds with an appearance, confirming the receipt of the papers. If the defendant didn’t file an appearance to the court, the defendant will default on appearance, automatically losing the case as a result.

Statement of Defense

The defendant outlines his defense against the claims made by the plaintiff. He can also counterclaim, countering the points made by the plaintiff and alleging that the defendant should be the one rewarded with the damages.

Alternative dispute resolution

The two parties meet and try to settle the claim out-of-court. Most will suggest taking the settlement since going to trial is expensive, time consuming and stressful.

If they still can’t agree with each other, there are alternatives before taking it to court:

  • Formal offer to settle – required in some states; a party might be penalized if they didn’t take a reasonable settlement offered by the opposite party
  • Mediation – a neutral party facilitates the negotiations; they try to give a favorable compromise to both parties
  • Arbitration – impartial individuals resolve the disagreement; they can be experts regarding the subject, which is useful if it’s very technical

The defendant might agree with the claim and pay the damages without any pursuing the case further

Formal Litigation

This next step involves the actual process in court.

Discovery of Documents

Finding and collecting evidence related to the case. The lawyers in each party share information with each other.

Examination for Discovery

Both parties are interviewed by their lawyers about the information in the documents.

Setting the Trial date

The lawyers on each side decide on the date and duration of the trial. The longer the duration, the longer the wait before the trial date.

Trial

The trial is held before a judge (or jury) and the parties present their case in turn, with the plaintiff first and the defendant next.

Witnesses are called to the stand and cross-examined by the lawyers of each party. Expert witnesses might be called to give a professional opinion regarding some of the evidence. After all of these are over, each side presents their closing statements, attempting to persuade the judge or jury in favor of their client.

Judgment

The judge examines each side’s case and gives his opinion and then states the judgment, rewarding the winning side with damages and the losing side having to pay for the damages.

Appeal

After the judgment, one or more of the parties involved may decide to appeal because they didn’t agree on the judgment.

This is general advice and it’s best to consult with a professional Las Vegas Personal Injury attorney before taking any action to court.