Summary of the Litigation Process

If your business is facing a lawsuit, it can feel overwhelming. Most people are not familiar with how litigation works, but television shows and news stories have made it seem very dramatic and daunting. In reality, if you have an experienced attorney on your side, he/she will ensure that your case is handled smoothly while also working to obtain the best result possible.

Your case will begin with an initial consultation with your attorney to discuss the facts and circumstances of the lawsuit. Your lawyer will help you determine the claims or defenses against the other party that are available to you. It is important to schedule your consultation as soon as possible because the law provides certain deadlines for filing claims. You don’t want your delay to result in the loss of beneficial rights. Once this meeting has been held, your attorney can start preparing your case by reviewing your documentation and other evidence, as well as researching the applicable laws.

If you are the plaintiff (the person suing the other party), your attorney will initiate the lawsuit by filing the initial pleading with the court. This pleading is often called a “petition” or “complaint.” If you are the defendant in the lawsuit (the party being sued), your attorney will have a specified amount of time to answer the initial pleading, setting forth your defenses and/or counterclaims against the plaintiff.

Next the discovery phase begins and each party is given the opportunity to gather information from the other party. Depositions are where the one party can conduct oral interviews of the other party and any witnesses relevant to the lawsuit. A deposition is oral testimony given under oath and is typically recorded with a transcription made of what was said. Written interrogatories are a list of questions the other party will have to answer under oath. Document discovery is also often included with interrogatories, which requests that the party provide certain documents relevant to the lawsuit.

The next phase of the litigation process is the trial. The trial is typically presented to a judge, but it may be before a judge and jury. The plaintiff has the “burden of proof,” which means the plaintiff will present evidence and arguments first. The defendant then can respond or refute it. This continues, with each side having the chance to rebut the evidence presented by the opposing party. The length of a trial depends on how complex the case is and the number of witnesses and exhibits that are involved.

After the trial has concluded and a judgment has been rendered, the post-trial actions can take place. This includes the filing of motions to appeal or efforts to collect on a final monetary judgment.

We understand that business litigation can seem overwhelming, but it is what the attorneys at Mailly Law do every day. If you believe a lawsuit is in the near future, contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.