What to Expect When Filing a Lawsuit

If you are in a difficult situation where you believe that someone has wronged you or caused harm, there are a variety of ways to handle a dispute outside a court of law. However, there are times when contacting an attorney and filing a lawsuit is the best and only remaining option. Lawsuits can be stressful and time-consuming, but this guide will help clarify the process and give you a better chance of a favorable outcome. 



If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, or injured due to negligence, you may be entitled to damages. For your first consultation, bring any legal or medical documents that help give a bigger picture of the situation. Creating a timeline is always helpful. As a client, the more input you can give, the more your legal counsel can help you. A lawyer will review the material, listen to your story, and make a determination on whether it is advisable to move forward with the case.



If the attorney determines that your case has merit, your attorney will collect any necessary documents and information pertaining to the case from you. Once the attorney has all of the information, they will formulate a defense and file a complaint on your behalf. The complaint will outline all aspects of the case. It will outline the events that transpired, the laws that were broken by the offending party, and the damages you seek to recover. As the person filing the lawsuit, you are referred to as the “plaintiff” and the person or entity you are filing against is referred to as the “defendant.”

The defendant is given a set amount of time to respond to the lawsuit, usually a month or more, where they will have the opportunity to obtain their own legal defense. If the defendant fails to respond, then the plaintiff can request an entry of default. This means that the defendant can no longer contest the complaint, but can now only dispute the exact amount in damages.



Once the defendant responds, the next phase of the process begins. This is where much of the leg work gets done for the case. You will likely be required to answer some questions and be interviewed under oath by the defendant’s lawyer (called a “deposition”), and your lawyer may reach out to you from time to time to ask clarifying questions. Your lawyer will also ask for information from the defendant. This fact-finding phase is broken into two parts. The first is written discovery, which is where your lawyer will request documents that pertain to your case. In employment cases, your lawyer may request internal documents from the employer to find evidence. Your lawyer will use the collected documents to form follow-up questions called “interrogatories,” which the defendant’s lawyer will return in writing.

The second part of the discovery phase includes depositions, which will require anyone involved with the case to answer questions from your lawyer under oath. You may also be required to do a deposition. These questions and answers are recorded and can be used during the trial.


Motion for Summary Judgment

In this phase, it is determined whether the court will dismiss the case, or reach a jury trial. In cases of employment lawsuits, the defendant’s lawyer may use this as an opportunity to have the case thrown out, but your lawyer will draft a response to explain why the case should continue to trial.


Settlement Conference and Mediation

Before going to trial, parties will have the option to settle outside of court. Lawyers will discuss possible options for the settlement, which include a compromise that benefits both parties in some way. Generally, most cases are settled before trial. Depending on the circumstances, using mediation to settle disputes is the best course of action.



If a settlement cannot be reached, both the plaintiff and the defendant will go to trial, usually with a jury. Your case will be presented before a jury and, depending on the complexity of the case, can take anywhere between a couple of days to several weeks (or more) for the trial to conclude. The jury will have the opportunity to interpret the evidence presented and then deliberate to determine the verdict.

If you believe that you are in need of legal assistance or are ready to file a lawsuit,  Contact Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C. today.

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Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C.

When it comes to the mission and values of the law firm of Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C., there are two words which provide the foundation for everything we do: honesty and integrity. We would be honored to represent you with honesty and integrity in every facet of your case. Please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email to schedule your free consultation.

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