Ultimately every legal issue can end up in court. Therefore, the term general litigation refers to litigation and all other aspects of law which may or may not be litigious in nature such as physical and/or emotional injuries from tortious conduct, wills/estate planning, incorporating businesses, contract drafting, real-estate transactions, disputes with administrative bodies, and more. Typically however, litigation is what happens when things go wrong and it ends up in court.
What is the Litigation Process?
In a nutshell: 1) Plaintiff sues; 2) Defendant Answers and/or brings a countersuit or drags another party in (amongst other actions); 3) Parties commence discovery; 4) Sometimes mediation or alternative dispute resolution; 5) Trial; 6) Appeals.
Sometimes you can settle matters out of court. Sometimes you can’t. Lawsuits are initiated by filing what is called a Complaint among other documents. But note there are other procedural requirements you need to follow to obtain jurisdiction over the other party. You need to have reason to sue and typically you will have to prove your elements to a judge or jury. Depending on where you sue and the amount in controversy you may or may not be able to get discovery (i.e., get evidence including interviews and documents of other people including the other party). There are oftentimes good faith defenses to bring such as the statute of limitations. If the case does not settle, then you may have the opportunity to issue discovery to get more information.
The burden of proof in civil litigation is preponderance of the evidence, also known as balance of probabilities (or 51% certainty). The standard is met if the proposition is more likely to be true than not true. David Hubbard has successfully represented clients in recovering money damages for physical and/or emotional injuries under theories of insurance bad faith, employment discrimination, defamation, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and negligence. Thus, according to Hubbard, “identifying and establishing early the theme of civil litigation is important and begins with a well-crafted complaint. The complaint is the invitation and your invitation need be remarkable to be effective.”