The Stages of Business Litigation
Whether you are filing a lawsuit or defending yourself in one, business litigation cases in California are often a lengthy, complex, and complicated process. Day time television gives people the false impression that you will stand before a judge and jury and your case will get settled in one afternoon. Always speak to an experienced attorney when faced with a legal issue as they will be able to gather all pertinent information and give you reasonable expectations and time to prepare.
Before a lawsuit even begins, the first step is to prepare a business lawsuit complaint and file it with the appropriate court. In this complaint, it should be noted exactly what legal harm has been experienced and what relief is being pursued by the plaintiff. This normally equates to an estimate to recovering financial damages as a result of the legal damage. When this complaint is filed, then the lawsuit has officially begun.
As the complaint is then served to the opposing party, they have a short period of time to file an official response to the complaint. Although rare, if the defendant(s) miss this window, then the plaintiff may request a summary judgment from the court to receive their requested damages. Most likely, the opposing party will file an answer to the lawsuits. Once that has been filed, the next stage of the lawsuit is the Discovery Process.
This phase is crucial to both parties and it is highly regulated. Evidence in the form of documents, written interrogations, depositions, and any other evidence will be gathered for both sides. Both parties will make official requests and the opposing party must respond in the correct manner and format. If either party fails to reply correctly, the side that is requesting may ask the court to put sanctions, or penalties and other types of enforcement, against the party that failed to provide an answer. This aids in forcing that party to comply with the rules of the court and move along the case. As the evidence from both sides start to surface, the litigants will be able to settle their cases with the other party.
If the case cannot be settled after this process, then it will proceed through the same preliminary pretrial matters. This includes scheduling, procuring evidentiary objections, opposing or replying to motions, and any additional legal motions a party wishes to make. A trial date is scheduled again and a judgment will be issued by the court at the conclusion of the trial. Of course, either party may appeal the judgment as a whole or in part if they have appropriate grounds to do so.
As you can see, business litigation can be a time consuming and expensive process. There may be other options to speed up or settle your case. But discussing your options with an experienced California Business Attorney is recommended as each case is unique.