Civil Litigation Process On How To Sue Another Business

Civil Litigation Process On How To Sue Another Business

Understanding the civil litigation process is essential for any business owner. Running a business involves inherent risks, so you must be ready for potential disputes with other companies. While you can resolve some issues with an agreement, others inevitably end up with a lawsuit. Thus, you should be ready to deal with these cases, whether from contractual violations or intellectual property (IP) concerns. So if you’re planning to sue another business or want to be prepared for the possibility, here’s a guide on the civil litigation process in California. Civil Litigation Process On How To Sue Another Business

How a Civil Lawsuit Works

Civil lawsuits are court cases involving personal injury or money between people or businesses. It generally involves two main parties: the plaintiff, who files the complaint, and the defendant, the entity being sued. If you’re planning to file a lawsuit, here are the two main types:

  • Small Claims. Businesses can file up to $5,000 in the small claims court. The process is generally quicker here since the rules are more straightforward, but you can’t hire a lawyer to represent you or appeal the court’s decision.
  • Limited Civil. Limited civil cases are more complex and generally take longer, with some lasting up to a year. With these, you can have a lawyer represent you and appeal the court’s decision if you disagree with it. 

Civil Litigation Process

To help you understand how civil lawsuits work in more detail, here are the main steps involved in the litigation process in California:

Pleadings

The civil lawsuit starts when the plaintiff files a formal complaint with the court, describing the case facts, legal violations, and requested compensation. They have to serve this complaint to the defendant within 60 days of filing. 

Afterward, the defendant will be given time to respond with their side of the dispute or file a motion to dismiss if they disagree with the complaint. Once parties have laid out their pleadings, the court will define the issues for resolution and set deadlines.

Discovery

Discovery is usually the most tedious and time-consuming part of the civil litigation process. At this stage, both parties gather information from each side and disclose what they intend to submit as evidence in court. They can collect data through written questions (interrogatories), live questioning (depositions), requests for production of documents, or requests for admission.

In case of disagreements during discovery, either party can file a motion with the court. For example, one party may want the other to produce more documents or exclude specific evidence from the trial. 

Pre-Trial

After discovery, the court may schedule a California pre-trial conference. Both parties meet before a judge to discuss key points of the case and clarify what each side is contending. They may also file motions to narrow issues or resolve the whole issue if possible. Cases often get settled or dismissed at this point, but those that don’t proceed to trial.

Trial

During the trial, each party presents their case before a judge and/or jury. They may examine witnesses, introduce exhibits or documents, and show their evidence. Some civil cases like small claims are decided by a judge, while others involve a jury, wherein 9 out of 12 jurors must agree on the verdict. 

Generally, the plaintiff goes first, followed by the defendant. In some cases, the plaintiff may have the chance to present more evidence as rebuttal after the defense rests its case. Once the trial is finished, the judge makes their judgment, or the jury decides on a verdict.

Post-Trial

In the post-trial stage, the winning party will ask the court to enforce the judgment. This may involve collecting payment or compelling a particular action. Alternatively, if either party is unsatisfied with the trial result, they can appeal the decision to the higher court. They’ll review the case and evidence to decide if the winning side committed any legal error.

What are the alternatives that can happen during the litigation?

Not all civil cases end up in a court trial. Instead, some may get resolved with alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques, which save time and money and give you more control over the process. Of course, an ADR’s feasibility depends on your case’s nature, but they’re worth considering since they come with many benefits. 

If you want to explore your options and resolve your dispute without a trial, here are possible alternatives that can happen during the litigation:

  • Settlement. When dealing with civil cases, it’s generally recommended to check the potential of a settlement before the trial stage. Either party can discuss a settlement any time during the litigation, which costs significantly less than a trial. 
  • Mediation. In some cases, the parties may settle on their own. But if they cannot do this, they can hire a neutral third party known as a mediator to assist them in the process. The mediator doesn’t force any outcome but merely facilitates the communication between parties to help them resolve their dispute. 
  • Arbitration. Arbitration involves a neutral third party called an arbitrator, who reviews the evidence from each side and decides on the outcome. In binding arbitration, the parties waive their rights to a trial, so they accept the arbitrator’s decision as final. As for a non-binding arbitration, the parties can ask for a trial if they disagree with the decision. 

Get an Experienced Lawyer to Represent You in a Civil Litigation

Dealing with business disputes can be tricky, especially if you need to sue another business. The litigation process proceeds differently for every case. Thus, it’s always best to work with an experienced lawyer with proven results to help you navigate the technicalities. This way, you have a professional to represent you and guide you to the best possible resolution. 

 

 

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