Business questionHow long does a lawsuit last?
Every suit is different. The length of a lawsuit will vary greatly depending upon the specific issues in dispute and parties involved. If the suit is small and the parties are amenable to settling the dispute the lawsuit may be over very quickly. A large suit with multiple parties and/or flared tempers will probably not settle as quickly.

What is the first step in a lawsuit?
Generally, if no formal lawsuit has been filed, the first step is Demand. In Demand one party will make a demand of the other.

Once a lawsuit has been filed the first step for the Defendant is Answer. The first step for the Plaintiff once a suit has been filed is Discovery.

What are the steps/stages to a lawsuit?

Demand: One party will make a “demand” of the other, who will then send a “response”. This may lead to informal discussions. A lawyer can help you evaluate whether what you are requesting or offering is realistic, and help you avoid making admissions that can hurt you if you can’t agree on terms.

Lawyer’s letter: If the parties can’t work things out among themselves, one party usually has an attorney send a letter. There may not be any legal significance to a lawyer’s letter, however, it usually gets a serious response from the other side. In some states it is necessary to make a formal demand before you can file suit, and the lawyer’s letter generally accomplishes this.

Pre-litigation settlement discussions: Often there’s an informal pre-litigation settlement discussion between the parties and their lawyers. Sometimes all it takes is a letter and phone call to straighten things out, particularly if the other side sees that you are serious.

Formal suit: If the informal attempts at resolution fail, formal action is started by filing suit. The formal litigation is underway. Be ware that there are strict “statutes of limitations” imposing time limits on when a suit may be filed and when the rights to sue expire.
Answer: Once the defendant is served with legal process, they must provide their formal Answer within a prescribed time frame. If the defendant does not answer on time have defaulted and generally will automatically lose the case.

Discovery: A lawsuit may involve pre-trial discovery in which one or both parties attempt to get evidence as to what happened, by taking the testimony of witnesses, or examining documents or physical evidence.

Motions: In a lawsuit either side may make motions in an attempt to narrow the issues, to compel the other side to do something, or to have the court decide the matter without the need for a trial.

Judge’s pre-trial conference: Before a trial the court will typically order a pre-trial conference to narrow issues down further, and perhaps get the parties to agree to a settlement.

Trial: Then comes the trial”, either by a judge alone, or with a jury to decide the facts and the judge to decide the law.

Judgment: After the trial the court will enter judgment. Ex. The plaintiff is entitled to recover $25,000.00.”

Post trial motions: There may be post-trial motions in which the losing party tries to convince the original judge that some other resolution is appropriate.

Post trial appeals:There may be an appeal by the losing party to a higher court.

Collecting the judgment: When the victorious party receives a judgment stating what he or she is entitled to recover, it is his or her job to collect the judgment. Collecting judgments can be difficult, especially if the defendant’s assets are limited or not easily located, or if they are exempt from claims of creditors.

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