Educating yourself on the processes and procedures surrounding a lawsuit is an excellent method for preparing your game plan and diminishing the anxieties and risks associated with being a party to a lawsuit. A business-related lawsuit, also known as commercial litigation, arises over a civil legal matter related to a transaction stemming from your business. The field of commercial litigation covers a broad range of legal issues – ranging from relatively simple, uncomplicated matters, to highly complex questions of fact and law. Commercial litigation can consist of claims of breach of contract, nonpayment of invoices, wrongful rejection of goods, employment discrimination, security obligations, or any other issue stemming from your business activities.
Other topics covered in commercial litigation include:
As described earlier, commercial litigation is started when the party initiating the lawsuit, also known as the plaintiff, files a summons and complaint. The attorney representing the defendant, or the party who the lawsuit is against, in this case, yourself, will prepare an answer affirming or refuting the allegations made in the complaint and their component facts. Your answer may also include one or more counterclaims, which present legal causes of action against the plaintiff, arising from the same set of facts, together with an amount of proposed damages.
Once the answer to the complaint has been filed with the court, the parties begin discovery: the phase in a lawsuit where parties begin collecting information for trial. During the discovery phase, attorneys implement various procedures for gleaning information from opposing parties that is essential to the prosecution or defense of the case. Requesting court orders to collect relevant documents, submitting interrogatories (lists of written questions related to the lawsuit), and holding depositions (interviews conducted with parties involved in the lawsuit) are a few of the procedures attorneys use to gather information. The information gathered during discovery is used at trial. Commercial litigation trials are often in front of a jury unless the parties agree to conduct a bench trial, where the judge renders the final decision, so how answers are tendered at this early phase can also exert great influence later on.
As indicated above, lawsuits can be complicated endeavors with many moving parts and often take over a year, or more, to finish. In addition to being time consuming, lawsuits, given the costs of legal counsel, are invariably expensive. In some cases, the losing party in a lawsuit is responsible for paying the legal fees of both parties. Forecasting the amount of money required to defend a lawsuit is an issue you should discuss when hiring a business litigation attorney to represent you. There are many issues to consider when determining how much money to allocate to defending a lawsuit. These issues include: the desire to obtain a legal decision on a matter that may haunt you in the future or when a successful outcome might deter other potential plaintiffs from suing you.
Whether you are involved in a simple outstanding payments lawsuit or a more complicated personal injury case, also known as a tort action, it is vital that you choose an attorney who has experience navigating the complexities and costs of the particular kind of litigation facing you and who is qualified to evaluate your chances for success. A lawsuit that is improperly managed or hastily joined by a novice attorney can result in you squandering assets. A veteran attorney may well be able to determine when a lawsuit should be pursued vigorously or, alternatively, when a less time-consuming, less costly method for resolving the lawsuit should be explored.
Next Section: Alternatives to Litigation