Litigate means file a case against someone and bring a case to Court. In the lawsuit, a plaintiff file a formal complaint with the appropriate Court. The civil litigation or legal process is most common in civil lawsuits but it comes about in all kinds of cases, from criminal to business litigation.
In a civil litigation case, a lawsuit is brought by one party against another without any allegation that a crime has been committed.
In the civil litigation process, two or more opposing parties defend their legal rights. The parties are the plaintiff, the person contemplating the lawsuit and bringing the charge, and the defendant, the person who caused the assumed injury. Litigation is typically settled by agreements between the parties, either by pre-suit mediation or by settlement.
Litigation involves a series of steps from pre-suit investigations, arbitration, facilitation, and sometimes the case may also be heard by a jury or judge in the appropriate Court.
The process of defending legal rights, usually starts the moment a party hires an attorney to represent his or her interests. Civil litigation attorneys engage in a variety of pre-suit litigation activities, from writing a demand letter (a letter on a client behalf), to filing a Notice of Eviction with a local Court.
Moreover, attorneys and litigators conduct extensive pre-suit investigation, gathering information about the harm that occurred, prior to filing suit. During a jury trial, each party present a case to the jury, with the plaintiff presenting first and the defendant then taking a turn defending against the plaintiff’s allegations.
On the other side, in a bench trial, the presiding judge makes the ultimate decision regarding liability and ensures that the case is litigated according to the rules of Court. If the trial proceeds to a conclusion, either the jury or the judge must decide which party wins.
Litigation continues even after a verdict is rendered and the losing party may still appeal the decision within a specified period of time to a higher Court. Litigation ends only if a settlement is reached.
Arbitration is an alternative to civil litigation, where a Court case is heard by a panel of attorneys or a single attorney instead of a judge or jury.
A great amount of civil litigation cases never reaches the trial stage, an expensive and uncertain step.