Have you ever been wronged and wondered what it might be like to sue someone? It’s less exciting than you think.
The vast majority of time spent on any case goes towards doing paperwork, gathering evidence, or negotiating a settlement. A courtroom may not even be in the cards.
Here’s what happens when you decide to file a lawsuit.
Investigate the Case
You can’t just sue someone. Why? Because no lawyer will take you on. Reputable firms, like Sweet Lawyers, only take valid cases to both protect their reputations and avoid being fined by the court.
The first step of any case is allowing a lawyer to start by investigating you, your problem, and the potential defendant. Your prospective lawyer will review the available documents and records, speak to witnesses, and decide:
- Whether your problem is severe enough to warrant a lawsuit
- If it worth suing, whether you can win
Once you find a lawyer to agree to the case, you then move onto the next step: either file a demand letter or file a summons.
A demand letter is the best option because it allows you and the defendant to find an agreement without a lawsuit. It saves you both time and money. However, filing a summons many be necessary to bring a suit.
File a Summons and Complaint
Your lawsuit officially begins the day you file a Summons and Complaint with the appropriate office. You will likely need your lawyer to do this on your behalf, and you will pay a filing fee.
The filing fee prevents very frivolous lawsuits from taking up the court’s time as well as funding the court system.
Once you file the Summons and Complaint, you can then notify the other party of your intent to sue.
Gather Evidence Through Discovery and Depositions
The initial investigation produced enough evidence to encourage a lawyer to take your case. It’s rarely enough to win.
The discovery stage is the official evidence gathering stage – for you and the defendant. It grants both sides access to relevant information that both parties intend to bring up in the case.
With the discovery in full swing, depositions can begin. Depositions give both sides the chance to talk to the parties involved and any witnesses. These are like a preview of what they might say in court if the case goes to trial. Everything occurs under oath and with a stenographer present.
Prepare for Trial
With all the cards on the table, the two attorneys meet and consider a settlement. The vast majority of cases do end in settlements because both sides have a clearer idea of who might win – and how much.
If the two sides don’t agree, then the case can go on the trial calendar.
Settle or Allow the Judge to Rule
You have the chance to settle up until the case goes to the judge provides a ruling.
The vast majority of cases do settle before there’s a verdict, particularly as it becomes clear who has the stronger case. What’s more, litigation is expensive for everyone. The mounting legal costs can make one or both parties more amenable to an agreement.
Do You Still Want to Sue Someone?
The decision to sue someone is a big one, and it’s important to know that the process doesn’t happen overnight. It can take months or even years to bring a successful lawsuit, and strangely, your goal is usually to avoid ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.
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