DC Civil Litigation Lawyer

The civil litigation process allows a person or business to hold another party or parties legally liable for wrongdoing by pursuing a remedy in the form of financial or equitable damages. Whether you require assistance dealing with a breach of contract matter, business litigation, or another civil dispute, a DC civil litigation lawyer could provide the knowledge and vigilant advocacy needed to pursue a favorable outcome. Speak with an attorney to discuss what determined representation could do for your case.

Types of Civil Litigation Matters

There are numerous types of civil litigation cases which may require the assistance of a skilled DC attorney. Common examples of civil litigation matters include the following:

  • Property disputes
  • Contract disputes
  • Corporate/Business litigation
  • Insurance litigation
  • Construction disputes
  • Shareholder or Partnership disputes
  • Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • Dissolution or Partnership Wind-up

Overview of the DC Civil Litigation Process

It is important to understand that the exact litigation process may vary depending on the nature of the individual’s case. However, in general, the civil litigation process is as follows:

The Opening Investigation

If the client is the plaintiff in the case, a DC civil litigation attorney could first investigate their claim to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to initiate a lawsuit. In the event the client is being sued, the attorney could exhaust all available strategies to form the most vigorous defense possible. Sometimes, it may be possible to bring a counterclaim against the suing party or entity.

The Pleadings Phase

Once the opening investigation is completed, the next stage is the pleadings phase. Pleadings are the legal documents that establish the facts subject to the dispute and which identify the parties.  Examples of pleadings include the complaint, answer, counterclaim, third-party complaint or crossclaim. When initiating a lawsuit, a plaintiff must secure a summons from the Court and prepare and file a complaint.  When defending a lawsuit, a Defendant must answer the complaint or otherwise move to dismiss it or else they risk having a default judgment entered against them.

The Discovery Phase

The next phase is discovery, during which the attorneys for each party conduct an extensive investigation for evidence and review documents from both sides. During the discovery phase, pertinent documents may be requested, depositions taken, and other vital information, such as expert witness opinions, is exchanged between the parties.

The Pre-Trial Stage

Once discovery has ended, the pre-trial stage commences. At this point, both attorneys engage in a pre-trial conference with the judge. The parties refine their positions in anticipation of a trial, identifying all of the evidence and witnesses they intend to use to help them win the case.  A civil litigation lawyer in DC could present motions, and ask the court to reach a decision on discrete issues of law or fact that may affect the outcome of the case. For example, a motion for summary judgement could ask the judge to dismiss the case outright or make certain legal rulings based on undisputed facts, or motions may attempt to exclude certain evidence from trial.

At this stage, it may be also possible to pursue an out-of-court settlement in order to avoid the length and expense of a trial. In the District of Columbia, the court orders the parties to attend mediation at the close of discovery and before trial.  In the event is not possible to reach a settlement, the case may continue to trial.

Trial

Trial proceedings often start preliminary motions, motions addressed to evidentiary issues and with jury selection, followed by opening statements from each party’s attorney. A DC civil litigation lawyer would present the theory of the case and the full range of evidence, including documents and witnesses, before the court.

Once both sides have presented their case before the court, each attorney enters their closing arguments, and the judge issues jury instructions. Finally, if it’s a jury trial, the jury deliberates on the matter before entering a verdict and when complete, states its verdict.  If not, the judge issues his or her ruling from the bench and it is entered into the record.

Entering an Appeal

When a final verdict is entered, it naturally follows that one party may be unsatisfied with the judgement or with how the court managed the case or ruled on a particular motion or matter. If so, that party may appeal the civil ruling to a higher appellate court. It is crucial that any party who wishes to file an appeal retain qualified legal representation to handle each phase of this complex process as there are critical timelines and procedures that must be followed if an appeal is going to be properly docketed.

Seeking Damages or Equitable Remedies

Depending on the type of civil litigation case filed, both equitable and legal damages may be available. Equitable remedies may be awarded when the court grants relief in the form of an injunction, which is an order obliging the other party to cease an action or to take a particular action.

On the other hand, economic damages may involve some form of monetary compensation when the claimant has incurred financial losses. A seasoned civil litigation attorney in DC could help the client understand what types of damages may apply in their particular situation and how to structure the case to obtain maximum recovery or minimize damages entirely depending on the case.

Discuss Your Case with a DC Civil Litigation Attorney

If you have grounds for a civil case, or if someone is pursuing a legal action against you, it is vital to speak with a DC civil litigation lawyer as soon as possible. Call today to discuss your potential case and find out more about your legal options.