Each year, an estimated 40 million lawsuits are filed within the United States. As this number continues to increase each year, for many Americans, the chances of experiencing a lawsuit during their lifetime is not a question of if but when. Even with America’s high number of lawsuits, the average American’s knowledge of law remains limited. The law office of Zarwin Baum hopes to increase public knowledge regarding lawsuits by providing detailed accounts of the steps involved in the lawsuit process. Below, Zarwin Baum discusses lawsuit steps and the first phases of the court process.
Complaints and Answers
The first step towards initiating a lawsuit is filing a complaint against the defendant. The plaintiff will review the complaint and outline their version of events within the complaint, dictating how the defendant’s previous actions justify litigation. Typically, the plaintiff will ask for monetary compensation or injunction. Next, the plaintiff will arrange for service of process, meaning an officer of the court will give the defendant the official complaint and summons. This summons will outline the basic description of the plaintiff’s case and provide a deadline of when the defendant must respond or face a default judgment. If the defendant decides to answer, they will provide their version of events, admit to any true statements made by the plaintiff, and rebuke and false statements. Additionally, during this step, the defendant can file any counterclaims against the plaintiff or file a motion to dismiss.
Once a complaint has been filed against a defendant, attorneys will begin the process of gathering evidence. Discovery allows both the plaintiff and defendant’s legal counsel to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case and develop strategies for the litigation. More often than not, during this stage, many cases are settled before going to court. If the plaintiff and defendant do not pursue a settlement, each side’s attorneys will begin to gather depositions. Depositions are interviews in which a witness or other individual answers questions regarding the case under oath.
Any time before a case reaches trial, either the defendant or plaintiff can file a motion to end the case. Oftentimes, the defendant will file this motion, and the plaintiff will oppose it. However, if the defendant has good reason to believe that the plaintiff does not have a strong case, they can file a motion for judgment on the pleadings at the very start of the case. Defendants are also able to bring a motion to dismiss the case if their team discovered a procedural mistake within the case.