Civil litigation covers a broad array of legal areas and involves either suing a party in court or defending yourself from a lawsuit. The civil litigation attorneys of Patrick, Harper & Dixon, LLP represent both plaintiffs and defendants in different civil litigation matters. Where possible, we explore mediation, alternative dispute resolutions, and other potential out-of-court solutions to minimize time and expense in your case.
Types Of Civil Litigation We Handle
Patrick, Harper & Dixon represents plaintiffs and defendants in the following practice areas, among others:
- Antitrust Law
- Bankruptcy (Creditor-Side)
- Business Litigation
- Civil Rights
- Construction Law
- Corporate Law
- Elder Law
- Employment Law
- Estate and Fiduciary Litigation
- Family Law
- Healthcare Litigation
- Insurance Defense
- Personal Injury
- Real Estate Law
- Social Security Disability
- Will Caveats
- Wrongful Termination
The Basics Of North Carolina Civil Litigation
While criminal courts are designed to punish wrongful behavior, civil litigation is used to demand monetary damages or compel someone to take some specific action. Civil litigation may also be used to prevent a party, by way of an injunction, from doing certain things.
Civil litigation begins with investigating the underlying facts. For example, if you believe a party breached its contract with you, your attorney will assist with obtaining the evidence that explains what the other party did. The next step in litigation is pleadings, which formally lays out the respective parties’ positions. For example, the plaintiff will file a complaint while the defendant will file an answer (and, sometimes, a counterclaim laying out its own legal dispute with the plaintiff). Motions are also used throughout the life of a civil lawsuit to request the court to render certain decisions.
The next stage is discovery, which is a process by which the parties exchange relevant information about the underlying claims with each other. Discovery is also used to obtain evidence from third parties. This stage will take time to complete because both you and the defendant will have to answer questions, produce documents, and potentially conduct depositions (among other things). Court hearings may also be necessary to compel a party to answer discovery requests or ask the judge to limit what you, the plaintiff, must provide to the defendant.
Your attorney should be familiar with the rules of evidence, civil procedure, and local rules of court. Not every document or statement is admissible in court, and certain steps have to be followed to ensure that what’s admitted is reliable. That’s where the evidence rules will dictate what can and cannot be allowed in court. Meanwhile, civil procedure governs the lawsuit from start to finish, and concerns the nature and contents of pleadings, motions, discovery, and much more. Finally, every court has its own local rules that go into even more detail about procedural and other requirements. Having an attorney with specific experience in your local court is important.
Are All Civil Litigation Cases Decided In Court?
Although courts handle a significant number of cases, most legal disputes are resolved through out-of-court methods such as mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Where possible, we explore these solutions to save time and money in your case.
A lawsuit can settle at any time before or even during trial. A successful settlement will not only benefit the client but also be comprehensive so that the entire legal matter is resolved once and for all. However, it’s important to have a knowledgeable attorney review any settlement papers to protect your rights and interests. Once your lawsuit settles, your case is over and it’s very difficult to withdraw consent from what you agreed to.
We will work to settle your case if possible and if the settlement terms are beneficial to you. If necessary, however, we are ready to take your civil litigation matter to court and fight for you.
Is There A Time Limit To File My Case?
One other aspect of civil litigation you should know about is the statute of limitations. This is a deadline that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit before he or she is unable to. If a plaintiff doesn’t file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, the defendant can ask the court to dismiss it and forever foreclose the plaintiff from the relief demanded. Different causes of action have different statutes of limitation in North Carolina, so if you intend to pursue a case you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact Our Hickory Civil Litigation Attorneys
If you’ve been named a defendant in a civil lawsuit, or you’re interested in pursuing one as a plaintiff, contact our civil litigation team. The attorneys of Patrick, Harper & Dixon have the experience and dedication it takes to make the strongest case possible. Contact us today to learn more.