Help! I am being sued!
We specialize in representing individuals who are being sued. We offer low cost but top notch defense to dog bites, slip and fall suits, auto accident, collection, breach of contract and other civil litigation matters. We will defend you vigorously while keeping an eye on the costs.
Civil litigation is a broad term that includes everything that goes on in Court that isn't criminal. Here are some important terms about civil litigation. They are in the sequence that you might come upon them in an actual case:
Plaintiff - the person bringing the claim
Defendant - the person being sued
Summons - This is a form that the Plaintiff completes and submits to the Court along with the Complaint. Once stamped by the clerk and served on the Defendant, it gives the Court jurisdiction over the Defendant.
Complaint - A short and plain statement of the facts, typically in numbered paragraphs, explaining what the Defendant did and how it violated a law or a duty he owed the Plaintiff and how Plaintiff was damaged as a result.
Answer - A response to the complaint, usually with corresponding numbered paragraphs, admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint.
Default - A entry by the Court indicating that a party didn't do something required. Once a default is entered, that party is in a sort of "penalty box" and can do nothing until the Court sets the Default aside.
Motion - A request by a party to the Court to take an action of some kind while the case is going.
Proof of Service - Everything a party files has to be sent to all the other parties. This is a document explaining how and when the other party was given papers. Every time something is filed, you need one of these, to show the Court that the other party knows what you filed.
E-filing - Electronic filing. Most courts these does have this sort of filing. You need a password to log in!
Hearing - Any time the parties come to Court to explain what they are seeking or claiming or what they are doing.
Praecipe - This is a document that tells the Court to place something on its calendar. If you file a Motion but no praecipe, the Court will not hold a hearing!
ADR - Alternate Dispute Resolution. This is when a Court sees if the parties can settle their dispute without the Court itself giving an all or nothing ruling.
Case Evaluation - A form of ADR, this is generally an informal hearing in front of a panel of three lawyers who assign a dollar value to your case. Usually, you have 28 days to accept or reject that award.
Pretrial - A hearing for the Court to determine what negotiations have taken place and to set a trial schedule.
Scheduling Order - The result of a good pretrial conference. It will set dates by which motions have to filed, witness lists have to be exchanged and might give a trial date.
Trial - This is the big show. At a trial you make an opening statement, examine witnesses and present your other evidence.
Judgment - This is the result of trial. It is a Court order granting a verdict in favor of one party and against the other.
Appeal - After a trial, a party has a right to ask a higher Court to overrule a lower court if there were legal errors.