Although you have likely heard the term “litigation” before, you may not fully understand what it means or what the process looks like. Fortunately, most people will never have to experience it. It can be mentally exhausting and stressful. There is also the fear of the unknown because what most people know about it comes from third-hand sources or television. Take comfort in knowing that attorneys of Hamilton Law will support and guide you through the litigation process if the need arises. We also wanted to take a moment to explain that process, which will simply make you more prepared.
What Is Litigation?
Litigation, at its core, is about a dispute. These can arise between people or businesses. For instance, a business owner may have a contractual dispute with a vendor, or a divorcing couple may be at odds about child custody. Additionally, people who pursue litigation seek a form of resolution. This could come in the form of compensation (money) or, in the example of the married couple, they simply want the court to determine their custody arrangement. Regardless, the litigation process begins when one party files a complaint against the other.
What the Process Looks Like
If someone files a complaint about you, then you are the defendant. At this time, you should contact an attorney. Though there are many forms of litigation, our firm is accustomed to working with clients dealing with business disputes, breaches of contracts, and real estate disputes. Don't wait to contact a lawyer because you have a limited window (about 21-30 days) to answer the complaint.
This leads to the discovery phase; your attorney will use this time to gather evidence. Here are some of the things your attorney may do during this time:
- Question witnesses under oath (also known as a deposition)
- Gather documentation
- Request interrogatories (these are sets of questions that you or the plaintiff will answer)
During the discovery process, your attorney may conclude that the complaint against you has no merit. For instance, there is no evidence to support their claim, or they have no legal ground to pursue this complaint in court. In Michigan, your attorney can file a motion for summary disposition, so they can argue that the court should not allow this lawsuit to go to trial.
Before a case goes to trial, there are usually pre-trial conditions. A case evaluation is an example of one required for any issues involving money. This involves three attorneys (none of whom are involved in the case) reviewing the case to recommend a settlement. Does the plaintiff have to accept their recommendation? No, but if the case goes to trial and the settlement amount is not 10% more than the previously rejected amount, they could end up paying the defendant's legal fees.
Are You Involved in a Dispute?
Contact the attorneys of Hamilton Law to schedule your free consultation. There are significantly more details about the litigation process than we could cover here. When you meet with us, we will listen to your concerns and explain what you can expect. We look forward to representing you and finding the resolution you need!