When legal disputes arise, you want to know that your attorney will be there to fight for you and make sure your rights are protected. If your case goes to trial, it can be a frightening experience. Most people feel uncomfortable at the thought of the courtroom. The average person doesn’t know what to expect, and when we, as humans, don’t know what to expect, we feel anxious.
“I view litigation as the conduct of business by other means. You need to identify the goal. You need to plan against the goal. You need to change the plan if it is not working toward the goal. You can never lose sight of the goal,” says Partner Ken Stenger.
What is the civil litigation process?
We use these terms throughout our site, so it’s important that you understand what they mean before we go any further. Litigation is the process of filing and answering a complaint through the public court system in order to resolve a dispute. At the law offices of Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond, LLP, we handle litigation in every aspect of our practice, from family law, to civil litigation, to personal injury law. There are several federal and local rules that work together to govern the litigation process for civil lawsuits, appeals, and more.
Any dispute between people, businesses, or other entities can lead to a civil lawsuit. This category of lawsuit typically progresses through stages. If you are involved in a dispute and you want to bring a lawsuit against the other party, or if the other party has brought a lawsuit against you, this is what you can expect:
There are two key terms you need to know if you are going to be involved in a civil lawsuit: plaintiff and defendant. The plaintiff is the party that was injured or wronged. The defendant is the other party that is accused of doing harm. In order to bring a lawsuit against someone, the plaintiff must file a complaint against the defendant. The complaint details what the defendant did (or failed to do in the case of negligence) that injured or wronged the person filing the complaint.
Once the complaint has been filed, the defendant has a chance to reply in the form of an answer to the complaint. In the answer, the accused party can provide his or her side of the story. This party can also counter the claim, arguing that, in fact, he or she is the injured party and the other party is to blame. The plaintiff who filed the initial complaint can then reply to the answer or counter-claim.
Once the two sides agree on the issue that needs to be resolved, the court will file the lawsuit and the sides can begin their preparation for trial; this is called the discovery phase. It is during this time that the two parties try to gather as much information as possible that will sway the case in their favor. This may include requesting copies of documents or asking the other party to either admit or deny factual statements. Another common part of the discovery phase is the deposition. A deposition is when an attorney questions a witness under oath, and it usually takes place out of court. The information obtained during a deposition can usually be used at trial.
This stage of the civil litigation process is one of our strong points. At Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond, LLP, we have refined our research skills, and we always go into a courtroom with confidence and determination.
Motions are written submissions to the Court that ask for various forms of relief in a case, ranging from protective measures (like temporary restraining orders) to accelerated judgments that can resolve the entire case long before trial. Motions can be made at various points in the litigation: right at the outset, as the case develops through discovery, or prior to or during the trial itself. Making a motion involves weighing your particular strategic purpose together with the strengths of your case at the given moment and/or the weakness of the other side’s case at the given moment. Making the right motion, at the right time, can lead to a victory that saves time and expense. Even in the absence of a complete victory by motion, the result or effect of the motion may narrow the issues in the case and/or create leverage in the case , which ultimately focusses the remainder of the litigation and/or influences a favorable settlement. Skilled litigation attorneys frequently utilize motions to protect their client’s interests, press litigations and obtain favorable results.
This is the stage that seems the most frightening. At the beginning of a trial, each side will present its opening statement. The plaintiff will present his or her evidence first, and the defendant will follow. At this time, each party can question witnesses and cross-examine the other party’s witnesses. Once each side has presented all the necessary evidence, they will give their closing arguments. The jury or judge will then reach a decision, known as a verdict, and the case will be concluded.
Walking into a courtroom can make even the most confident people feel weak at the knees. You may think that you can handle it by yourself—that you are clearly in the right and will come out on top. However, a case can easily turn on a dime. If you don’t know what you are doing, the opposing party can stack the cards against you without you even knowing it, even if you were completely innocent. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that you can handle this on your own. You need a New York litigation attorney who will represent you through this process with vigor and complete dedication. Going to trial is our other strong point; let us put our strength to good use with your case.
If a party is not satisfied with the verdict, that party can ask a higher court to review the trial court proceeding for any errors. This process is called an appeal. However, if no errors are found, the appellate court cannot reverse the verdict or order a new trial.
Alternatives to Trial
Taking a case to trial is not your only option when you file a lawsuit. Most disputes are actually settled out of court through a process called settlement. It is also possible to settle a dispute through mediation or arbitration, in which a neutral third party either assists with the settlement process or resolves the dispute.
New York Litigation Attorneys Here for You
With extensive courtroom experience, our lawyers know what to expect when a case goes to trial. Preparing all cases for the rigors of the courtroom, we will also remain open to all possible opportunities to favorably resolve a case through negotiation. We will work closely with you to find solutions outside of the box.
Whatever legal dispute you may be involved in, whether you are prosecuting or defending against a lawsuit, we are prepared to protect your rights. We have successfully litigated disputes involving land use zoning and planning, personal and business contracts, insurance, real estate, among many others.
In addition to traditional litigation, our firm also has an appellate practice. We raise and defend against appeals in all areas of our diverse practice.
As one of the largest Dutchess County firms, we have the attorneys and the resources needed to handle all types of complex litigation. We will come together as a firm to discuss your case in order to open up discussion for creative solutions and courtroom strategies. We want to make sure you explore all options to reach a resolution.