Civil Litigation Attorney Referral Service
What is civil litigation?
When a business has a dispute with another business, a customer, and employee, or another entity, it may be necessary to pursue civil litigation. There is a difference between civil litigation and criminal litigation.
In civil litigation, a ‘plaintiff’ will file a complaint with a court. The complaint is against an offending party, usually called the ‘defendant’. In civil business litigation, the plaintiff will usually be seeking a particular remedy from a defendant or group of defendants. The remedy is often monetary.
There are many different types of disputes that are solved civil business litigation. These include:
- Breach of contract
- Breach of fiduciary duty, which is when one party has violated its duty of loyalty to another party
- Unfair competition
- Tortious interference with contract
- Interference with business expectations
- Trade secret misappropriation
- Business defamation
- Products liability
- Intellectual property rights violations
- Premises liability
- Mergers and acquisitions
The above list is non-exhaustive. Because there are so many different types of disputes that can arise in the business world, it would be impossible to list them all. However, many, if not most, of these business disputes are solved using civil litigation tactics and business litigation attorneys.
What is the legal process involved in a civil litigation case?
Because there are so many different types of possible disputes in the business world, it is impossible to create a one-size-fits-all step-by-step guide to the legal process involved in a civil business litigation case. However, there are steps that apply to all civil litigation cases.
First, the plaintiff, or the entity or individual bringing the case, will file a complaint against the defendant, or the entity or individual that has committed an alleged wrong against the plaintiff. This complaint initiates the lawsuit and notifies the defendant of what he or she has allegedly done wrong.
The defendant will have a chance to answer the complaint, which usually involves admitting or denying the allegations set forth in the complaint.
If one party is clearly at fault in a case, the case may be settled before going to trial.
For example, if the facts of the lawsuit show that the defendant clearly breached a business contract and wronged the plaintiff, then it would be less costly and time-consuming for the two parties to agree on a damages amount rather than going to trial where it is almost certain that a judge or jury would find against the defendant anyway.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the business litigation case will go to trial. A trial can occur before a jury or a judge. During trial, the plaintiff and defendant will present their arguments, including any and all evidence that proves each side’s arguments. At the close of the trial, the jury or judge will come up with a verdict and award damages.
How do I choose a civil litigation attorney that is right for me?
The most important thing to consider when choosing a civil litigation attorney is what type of dispute you and your business are experiencing. Oftentimes, attorneys will focus on a particular area of business litigation. While one attorney may be adept at contract law, another may be adept at tort law. As a result, you should ensure that you consult with and hire an attorney that has experience in your particular claim.
Additionally, you should seek an attorney who has experience both in the courtroom and in settlement negotiations. If your case goes to trial, you need to ensure you have an attorney who knows courtroom procedure and that has experience arguing in front of a judge and jury. However, if your case is ripe for settlement, you will want to know that your attorney can effectively and aggressively advocate for your position against another party.
You should engage a lawyer who has had success in settling cases or securing favorable jury verdicts in the past. This can be an indicator of how your potential new attorney will handle your case. However, it is important to remember that past success is no guarantee for future success. Each case is different and should ultimately be evaluated on its own facts and the law applicable to those facts.
Let us know if you’re an attorney interested in becoming a member of the Attorney Referral Service.