When To Hire a Defense Attorney for a Civil Suit
Even if it’s just from watching Law and Order, you likely have some idea of what’s involved in the criminal justice process. But what’s very rarely publicized or dramatized is the civil justice process. We often forget that a main function of the court system is to settle civil disputes.
When a dispute is settled through the court system, it’s called litigation.
Did you know that there are significantly more civil law cases than criminal law cases every year in the United States? Whenever an individual is brought before a court as the defendant, they have the risk of a judgment being made against them. In criminal cases, this can mean jail time and fines. In a civil case, the judgment can require the defendant to pay money to the plaintiff.
In both civil and criminal cases, it is the defense lawyer’s job to represent the defendant in court. Some cases can be settled out of court or are small and uncomplicated enough that you could represent yourself. But there are times that you will want to hire a defense attorney for a civil suit.
What Is Civil Litigation?
Lawsuits that do not involve criminal charges are considered civil litigation. Civil litigation starts when a complaint is filed by a plaintiff against a defendant. Both the plaintiff and the defendant can be a person, a business or a government entity. In most civil litigation cases, the plaintiff is suing the defendant for money.
The defendant in a civil litigation case has the right to be represented by a lawyer at every stage of the case. However, it’s important to know that, unlike in criminal cases, you will not be provided with a lawyer if you cannot afford one. So if you find yourself in the position of defendant in a civil lawsuit, you want to make sure you hire the best civil lawyer you can find so you’re not out double the money.
When You Need a Civil Attorney
There are several scenarios in which you will need the expertise of a civil lawyer to succeed:
- When you are sued
- When you want to sue someone
- When a specific right to property of some value is involved, as when buying or selling real estate
- When you want to transfer your property to others
- When you want to set up a business
- When you want to end a marriage
- When you want to protect or enforce what you consider a legal right
All of these require the legal expertise of a civil lawyer to proceed correctly. But you only need a defense attorney when you are the defendant in one of these situations. If you are being sued, contact a civil defense lawyer in your area and get a consultation on your case. The first consultation should always be free.
The Civil Law Suit Process
It’s tempting to believe that you can represent yourself in a civil law case – especially when you know that you’ve done nothing wrong. But, unfortunately, the court system is complicated and difficult to navigate – that’s why lawyers have to go through so much schooling and pass an extensive exam to be licensed in their state of practice.
Although you may be able to navigate the initial lawsuit proceedings, like being served papers and negotiations for settlement (when the plaintiff will accept or refuse what you offer to end this outside of court), if the case cannot be settled (and often you need a lawyer to guide you through the negotiations as well to ensure you’re not swindled out of a lot of money), the plaintiff will file a civil suit.
Determining Court Jurisdiction
Before a civil suit can be filed, the court of jurisdiction must be determined. Namely, the attorney trying to start a civil suit will need to determine which court can best serve the case for both subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction.
Then to file a civil suit, the plaintiff’s attorney files a complaint with the court clerk. The complaint must be a legal document prepared by the plaintiff or their attorney. The complaint lays out the plaintiff’s version of the facts of the case and names the amount of money the plaintiff wants the defendant to pay.
Next is the summons. The summons notifies the defendant that they are being sued and usually allows them 30 days to respond to the plaintiff’s complaints and demands.
After being served with a summons, the defendant responds with “the answer.” The answer is a legal document filed with the clerk of the court and the defendant either admits or denies the allegations made in the complaint. If a defendant fails to respond, the court may default in favor of the plaintiff – meaning they win the case. After all this, there is still the process of discovery and the trial itself, which should almost never be navigated without a civil attorney at your side.
If you need a defense attorney for a civil suit or have questions about civil law, contact Bobby Digby Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.
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