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Litigation FAQs

Litigation FAQs

What is litigation?+
Litigation is the process by which disputes are resolved through use of the court system.
What types of disputes can be litigated?+
Just about any kind of dispute can be litigated. Litigated claims can include personal injury , medical negligence, nursing home negligence, motorcycle, truck and auto accident claims, defective products, and business and contract disputes.
What is the process for litigation?+
Litigation begins with the filing of a lawsuit. Generally, the defendant responds to the lawsuit by serving an answer. Once the defendant responds, the parties often exchange relevant information through a process called discovery. After discovery is complete, the lawsuit can be resolved by the court or a jury at trial or by use of alternative dispute resolution techniques like mediation or arbitration. Even after the court makes a final determination, either party may appeal. At any point in the process, the parties can resolve the matter out of court if they are able to negotiate a settlement that is agreeable to all parties.
Do all cases go to trial?+
Most cases do not go to trial, principally due to the costs and risks involved for all parties. Many cases settle, and others are resolved by use of pre-trial motions for accelerated judgment. These motions ask the court to make a determination on the case based upon a question of law that does not require a trial. These include motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss.
How long does the litigation process take?+
It varies widely: some litigated claims can be resolved quickly, whereas others may take much longer to conclude. Each case is different and depends on, among other things, the complexity of the legal issues and facts, cooperation of the parties and the volume of cases being handled by the court.
What is alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?+
ADR is a technique where the parties to a dispute voluntarily allow a neutral third party to influence or determine the outcome for the dispute. These techniques include mediation and arbitration.
What is mediation?+
Mediation is a non-binding ADR technique where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, listens to each party’s position and seeks to achieve a negotiated resolution. Mediation is typically not binding, meaning the mediator cannot force a resolution. However, some courts require litigants to participate in the process.
What is arbitration?+
Arbitration is an alternative ADR technique. The parties have their dispute determined by an arbitrator, which could be a single person or a panel of people, instead of a court and jury. Unlike mediation, the decision of the arbitration usually binds the parties.
Why do parties choose ADR instead of using the court system?+
The main benefits of ADR include lower costs and faster resolution of cases.
What should I do if I get sued?+
If you get sued, you need to consult with an attorney immediately. Once served with a summons you only have a short period of time to respond – usually 20 days. If you do not respond in a timely way, the other party may be able to enter a judgment against you . It is important to consult an attorney to be certain that you respond on time and that you include in the response any defenses you may have as well as any claims you may have against the other party. Defenses and counterclaims that are not asserted in a timely fashion may be waived.
What are the best ways to avoid litigation?+
Sometimes litigation can’t be avoided, but you can take prudent steps. For example, consult with a trusted attorney before entering into an agreement, lease, sale or business relationship, and don’t rely simply on oral representations. If you find yourself in a dispute with another party, contact an attorney as soon as possible. It may be possible to resolve the dispute before litigation is started or to take steps to protect your interests early.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?+
Lawsuits must be filed within certain time periods known as “statutes of limitations.” This is the time established by law within which you must bring a claim. There are different time periods for different types of matters and even for different types of parties. For example, certain defendants, such as governmental entities, get the benefit of shortened time limitations. Also, there are exceptions to the time limitations that might extend your time. For instance, children get extra time under the law within which to bring their claim. If you fail to start a lawsuit within the time limits, your claim may be dismissed. Our attorneys can help you navigate these sometimes tricky issues.
Can I represent myself in court?+
Although individuals are permitted to represent themselves in court, self-representation (sometimes known as proceeding “pro se”) presents many risks. Pro se litigants typically lack formal training, practical experience, and knowledge of procedural rules that can be important to a successful outcome.
How much will all of this cost?+
At Lacy Katzen, we are committed to representing our clients effectively and economically. Matters can be handled under several types of fee arrangements depending upon the situation. These include hourly billing, contingency fee (where the firm is paid a percentage of the client’s recovery) or some combination of these billing methods. We understand that expense and uncertainty can make litigation a daunting concept. At Lacy Katzen LLP, we are committed to representing our clients both effectively and economically. We pride ourselves on full transparency with clients, and where appropriate, on our creative, alternative fee arrangements.
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