What is Litigation?
Litigation is a term that describes the proceedings that are begun between two parties who have a legal conflict that needs resolving. In most cases, one party will be suing the other to enforce their legal rights.
Litigation is not simply a different name for a lawsuit. It actually includes various processes and activities that must take before, during, and after the actual time spent in trial at court. For instance, it can include pretrial negotiations and motions, evidentiary issues in court, and post-trial appeals.
Both civil and criminal cases may involve litigation. In fact, litigation is an aspect of law practice in general, and is not unique to any one specific field of law. Litigation sometimes ends through a settlement agreement between the parties. Some litigation is conducted through administrative courts, such as those involving tax court or immigration court.
Does Litigation Cost More Than Mediation?
Choosing to litigate a case is a major decision, as the process can be long and may require the expenditure of resources. Even the most seemingly straight-forward cases may have a lot of procedural aspects that must be handled. Thus, litigation costs can add up, so a person filing suit should be prepared for these types of expenses. Some litigation costs can include:
- Service of process;
- Filing various pre-trial motions and discovery documents;
- Conducting investigations into the accident or incident;
- Gathering evidence for use in trial;
- Preparing for arguments in trial;
- Costs associated with expert witnesses and accident reconstruction;
- Post-trial follow-up activity, including additional motions and appeals;
- Attorney’s fees and costs; and
- Various other expenses.
In some cases, it is possible to get the other side to pay for some litigation costs, such as attorney’s fees. This may depend on the type of case, state laws, and the overall outcome of litigation.
In many instances, there might be some alternatives to litigation. These can include alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. Mediation involves a meeting between the two parties and a neutral, third-party mediator. The role of the mediator is to listen to both side’s complaints and to help the parties reach a workable agreement for resolving the dispute. Some types of conflicts lend themselves well to mediation and other similar alternatives.
For instance, child custody mediation can be a common way to help determine which parties will gain custody. Mediation is generally a faster and less expensive way to resolve a legal dispute.
What are Some Examples of Litigation?
While alternative resolution methods are available, in some cases litigation is necessary and the best way for the parties to completely resolve their issues. The court judgment arising out of litigation also provides the parties with a legally binding resolution for their dispute. Some common types of litigation include:
Personal Injury Litigation: Personal injury cases make up a large portion of the lawsuits filed every year. Personal injury litigation can cover issues ranging from a simple car accident claim, to more specific injury cases like bulging disc diagnosis litigation and other complex medical claims. Product liability cases are also common, as well as cases involving malpractice.
- This type of litigation often results in a damages award to compensate the victim for losses springing from their injuries;
Government Litigation: These cases involve claims over issues that are generally managed by federal, state or local government agencies. For instance, most environmental litigation cases involve some form of government involvement, especially those having to do with pollution and emissions regulation.
- Some government litigation cases involve issues directly affected by the new laws, statutes, or acts, such as California’s Proposition 65, which has to do with drinking water issues. Litigation directly involving the government, is also sometimes possible, such as for False Claims Act issues involving fraud against the government;
Business Litigation: This category of litigation often involves conflicts between businesses, or complaints lodged against a business or corporation. They often involve transactional disputes, contract formation, intellectual property, and other business-related issues.
- The cases can be smaller if they involve small businesses or startups, and can be bigger cases if they involve large corporations, or if they are class actions affecting the general public. They can also involve broader issues, such as antitrust litigation; and
- Real Estate Litigation: This type of litigation involves disputes over property. This can include a whole range of issues, such as landlord/tenant disputes, title or deed disputes, claims involving property damage, boundary disputes, easements, and land use/zoning claims. Some real estate litigation cases may also involve discrimination elements.
These are just a few examples of litigation types. There are many other areas where litigation is employed, such as family law, wills and trusts/estates, criminal law, and others.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with Litigation?
Litigation is a complex process that can sometimes take years to complete. You may need to hire a lawyer in your area if you need help with litigation. Your attorney can help you prepare for your case and can provide representation during the entire process.