Denton Law Virginia Beach, VA
What is Civil Litigation?
Civil litigation cases refer to any legal dispute where monetary damages are being sought out by two or more parties. Any time you sue someone or are being sued, you are involved in civil litigation and should consider obtaining an attorney. Our team of Civil Litigation and Business attorneys are located in Virginia Beach, VA. Whether you are a small business owner or a individual seeking a good Civil Litigation lawyer near you, it is important to choose the best representation for your case. Schedule a consultation today.
What are the first steps to a civil litigation case?
The first step in a civil litigation case is to file the complaint. For a complaint to be filed, an attorney must hold in good faith that the case is well grounded in facts and supported by law. This rule prevents attorneys from bringing harassing or frivolous claims to court. In other words, an attorney must reasonably believe that the plaintiff, his client, can allege facts supporting each element of his claim. Typical civil litigation cases include personal injury matters, defamation, employment, business, breach of contract and other disputes where individuals and/or groups are unable to resolve their differences without court intervention.
Do these cases often go to trial or settle?
The majority of civil lawsuits settle outside of court with attorney intervention, with some cases settling before the complaint is filed, based on the initial demand. Other cases involve settlements negotiated between attorneys at any time during the litigation. Some cases settle with the help of a mediator, while others settle on the courthouse steps. If no settlement is attained outside of court, cases will settle after a trial and/or while pending on appeal. A case can settle at any time that the involved parties agree to a settlement and deliver upon that agreement.
What court do you file a civil litigation case in?
Civil litigation actions are brought in either general district or circuit court. The difference between these courts is that general district court requires less legal work, and is therefore quicker and less expensive. However, in general district court a plaintiff may only sue for up to $50,000. Breach of contract actions are limited to $25,000. In circuit court, a plaintiff may sue for any amount of money. Damages must be proven in order for the court to enter judgement. Any case filed in general district court can be appealed to circuit court. Any case in circuit court can be appealed to Virginia Court of Appeals. From there, certain cases can be appealed to Virginia Supreme Court.
If specific criteria are met, civil litigation cases may be filed in federal court.
What is the timeline of a civil litigation case?
After the complaint is filed, the defendant has 21 days to file a responsive pleading. The defendant may file a motion to dismiss, or a demurrer.
Once the motion to dismiss is resolved, the defendant must answer the complaint with specific responses to each allegation, which is then followed by a process of discovery. Discovery involves the exchange of documents, written responses, and depositions. The discovery process can be burdensome, time consuming, and expensive. Once discovery concludes, civil litigation cases are often decided on a motion for summary judgement. If not, the case will proceed to trial. The attorneys in civil litigation matters often conduct motions practice, in which they try to resolve distinct legal issues with motions argued before the court, prior to trial. A circuit court case can take a year or more, where a general district court often takes six months.
What other important information do clients need to understand about civil litigation cases?
When clients come to me to discuss a civil litigation matter, they are often facing one of the biggest and most complex problems of their lives and need assistance. The first step is to recognize practical and financial realities that may determine whether or not to proceed with the legal action. For example, whether or not a defendant has “deep pockets”, or the ability to pay a judgement, makes a major difference in this decision. There can be reason to proceed with a lawsuit even when there is evidence that the defendant cannot pay amends, but this often does not make financial or practical sense. Many clients need to pragmatically assess wether or not to embark on civil litigation, aside from emotion. If a client does proceed with filing a lawsuit, they must understand that this will be a time consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing process. Clients must not make any posts on social media regarding their cases without consulting their lawyer. Many previous clients benefited from keeping a contemporaneous journal of all facts and other important information relevant to their legal concern. Attorneys are experts of the law, aiming to guide clients through difficult circumstance. Thus, clients can expect honest and fair advice and services from attorneys at Denton Law.
Is it important to retain an attorney for a civil litigation case?
Absolutely. The difference an attorney makes in the outcome of a typical case is enormous. For this reason, insurance companies often try to settle car accident cases directly with their customers prior to the customer engaging an attorney. If you believe that you have grounds to consider filing a civil litigation case you should consult with a civil litigation attorney immediately, one at Denton Law or another practice.