Filing a lawsuit is one of the ways to resolve a dispute between two parties. The purpose of filing a lawsuit is mainly to get compensation for injuries and property damage. Before filing suit in court, you must understand what a lawsuit entails, as well as when and where to file one.
A court of law or a court of equity hears a lawsuit. The court decides the remedy that the plaintiff can receive if the defendant is at fault. Consult a lawyer before filing a lawsuit and always have legal representation if the case goes to court.
When You Should File a Lawsuit
The statute of limitations and legal representation are important considerations in deciding whether to file a lawsuit. Florida sets a four-year statute of limitations for filing lawsuits based on negligence.
What’s more, the decision to take a lawsuit to trial should rest on the following four questions:
- Is there a good case?
- Can you get a settlement?
- Can the parties settle the lawsuit out of court?
- Can you collect the settlement?
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof in a civil lawsuit lies with the plaintiff. The proof required in a lawsuit will depend on the specifics of the case. One of the most common grounds for filing a lawsuit is negligence.
When it comes to negligence, there is an implied duty of care that one part owes to another. If these obligations are not met, then the aggrieved party can file a lawsuit.
For instance, a medical malpractice lawsuit can occur when the doctor or hospital fails in their duty to provide treatment and care that follows the profession’s standard of care. But such lawsuits can only occur if a relationship exists between the patient and the doctor.
The Four Elements of Negligence
You can file a lawsuit if someone else’s negligence causes injuries or property damage. Negligence can be acts of omission or acts committed knowingly or unknowingly. Lawsuits based on negligence resulting in injury or property damage have the following elements:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
A duty of care often exists when a party’s actions may cause injury or property damage. For instance, motorists owe each other and pedestrians a duty of care. Failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing harm or property damage should result in a lawsuit.
A breach of duty of care gives you the right to make a personal injury claim against the liable party. You can only get compensated if the negligent actions directly caused of any injury sustained or property damage.
Steps to Take Before Filing a Lawsuit
The first thing you should do before filing a lawsuit is to consult a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer will help you build your case and can fight for bigger settlement from the liable party.
A lawyer will also negotiate with the liable party’s insurer. The liable party’s insurer will try to settle as quickly as possible, and they will try to minimize the settlement offer. A lawyer will negotiate on your behalf and ensure that you get a fair settlement.
Preparing a Petition
A lawyer knows how to prepare the required documents used in a lawsuit. The Middle District of Florida Court requires that all lawsuits begin with a complaint or petition.
The petition contains:
- The parties involved in the case
- The outline of the plaintiff’s case
- The legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction
- The facts giving rise to the claims made by the plaintiff
- The demand of what the court should order the defendant to do
Once the court processes the complaint, it summons the defendant. The court gives the defendant an opportunity to file an answer to the complaint or the basis on which the complaint should get dismissed. If you are a defendant in a lawsuit, you need to respond to the complaint. All these steps are crucial to the lawsuit, and they can make or break your case.
Hiring a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer can give you the upper hand and ensure that you do everything right before filing a lawsuit. You may file a lawsuit and receive a counterclaim from the defendant. A counterclaim will resemble the petition, and you may reply to the counterclaim.
Phases in a Lawsuit
The first phase of a lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint. Once the defendant has received the complaint, they can hire a lawyer or represent themselves. If you are the defendant, it is better to hire a lawyer. The second phase of a lawsuit is discovery.
The discovery phase involves the exchange of information between the two parties. The discovery phase allows both parties to gather evidence and collect more information about the case. The depositions of various witnesses occur in the discovery phase.
The discovery phase can last between 6 to 12 months or longer.
Mediation and Negotiation
The third phase of a lawsuit is mediation and negotiation. The evidence gathered during the discovery phase often gets used by the parties involved to reach a settlement. A neutral third party acts as the mediator between the parties involved.
If there is no mediation or negotiation, the lawsuit moves to trial. The defendant can file a motion for summary judgment if they believe that the plaintiff does not have sufficient evidence to prove liability.
The trial phase involves jury selection and drafting motions to ascertain the evidence allowed in court.
The trial begins by listening to each side, examining evidence, cross-examining the witnesses, and hearing each side’s closing arguments. The judge or jury will present a verdict after the trial is over. The court determines the settlement you can receive if your lawsuit is successful.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you sustained injuries or property damage because of someone else’s negligence, a civil law attorney can help.
Filing a successful lawsuit will help you recover damages for medical care and more. Call Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers at (855) 529-0269 today and receive a free consultation with a caring team member.