Lawsuits are very complicated and can be very difficult to handle on your own. Though it is not given that you will win the case, the probability of wining is higher if your case is guided by someone who has specialized training than if you represent yourself with little knowledge of the legal system (I recommend Mario Madrid, the best DUI attorney I know, check out his Facebook page).
The following are the main steps in a lawsuit.
1. Gathering information
With the help of the client, the lawyer collects and puts together information to be used in court to defend the claim. It is at this stage that witnesses are interviewed and their statements are taken. To gather additional information, investigators may be hired as well.
2. Lawsuit is officially filed
The lawyer prepares the necessary documents and officially presents them in court. The court then date-stamps all copies of the documents and keeps one in their records. The filed copies are then presented by the lawyer to the defendant’s lawyer. Expenses at this stage are for filing.
3. Interim applications
Before the trial, either of the lawyers may go to the court to ask for orders or directions. For instance, the lawyer may ask the defendant to produce a potentially incriminating piece of evidence they are holding back. This is called an interim application.
4. Examination for discovery
This is a pre-trial process that allows the lawyers of each of the parties to question the other party under oath. This is meant to help the lawyers find additional information that may help them build their case. The questions are usually restricted to information that is relevant to the case or to the discovery of facts that may be relevant.
5. Review of the law
After understanding the facts of the case, the lawyer has enough information to review the law. He/she can then give an opinion on the case to his client and what it is likely to be the outcome at trial.
6. Negotiation and settlement
When need arises, the lawyer may approach the defense lawyers to see if they are willing to settle. A settlement is an agreement between the prosecution and defense that is meant to resolve the issue without going to trial. If the defendant is willing to negotiate, the case doesn’t proceed to court.
7. Preparation for trial
If the two parties do not come to an agreement, the case still goes to trial. The lawyer at this point prepares himself by assembling the necessary documentation, informing and arranging for the witnesses to attend and preparing his legal arguments.
On the day of the trial, the lawyer represents his/her client as expected. After this, the decision is left to the judge. It could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for a judgment to be made. After judgment is passed, the lawyer prepares the court order which is signed by the judge.
9. Completing the claim
If the case is won, the lawyer completes the claim by issuing the client with the settlement or judgment money, after subtracting their fees and expenses.