Litigation FAQs

 What are the stages of litigation?

The stages of litigation depend upon the type of case. Generally, a lawsuit is commenced by the plaintiff’s filing and service of a summons and complaint. A complaint is a legal document which sets forth all of the allegations against the defendant, the party being sued.

After the complaint is filed, the defendant generally files and serves an answer which responds to the allegations set forth in the complaint. In certain cases, the defendant may move to dismiss the plaintiff’s case prior to serving an answer. These motions are rarely granted by the courts, as the courts generally want to give the parties an opportunity to explore the facts of the case.

After service of the answer, the parties participate in discovery, which includes the exchange of documents and the taking of depositions. A deposition is an oral examination of a party by the attorneys in the case. At the deposition, the witness is under oath, and may be asked hundreds of questions about the case. The deposition usually takes place in a conference room, and no judge is present.

After depositions, the parties often discuss settlement. If the parties cannot settle, they may engage in motion practice. A motion is a legal document filed by either party seeking a judgment in their favor. The plaintiff may make a motion which seeks a judgment from the court granting the relief requested in the complaint. Conversely, the defendant may make a motion seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

If neither party’s motions are granted, the case proceeds to trial. At trial, both parties present their case to either a judge or a jury, after which a verdict is rendered.

How long will my case take?

The length of a case depends on the type of case. The average personally injury lawsuit can take anywhere from one to even five or more years to be resolved. However, certain cases, such as landlord tenant cases, can be resolved within a few weeks.

What is an appeal?

An appeal is an application by a party to a higher court seeking reversal or modification of a lower court’s order or decision. A party must first file a notice of appeal, and then prepare an appellate brief to the appellate court. Appeals can be very costly and time consuming, as such, parties should analyze the merits of an appeal and the likelihood of success before moving forward.

How much will my case cost me?

The cost of a case also depends on the type of case. For a personal injury matter, the client does not pay us unless we recovery money for them, either at trial, or via settlement. Some cases are billed to the client on an hourly basis, such as matrimonial cases and civil litigation. In these instances, clients may be asked to pay an up –front retainer, or down payment. Other cases may be taken on a flat fee basis, where the client pays a flat rate for the entire case. We will review the specific fee arrangement for your case during your initial consultation.