Frequently Asked Questions About Litigation
Experienced attorneys in VA and DC provide the answers
Many businesses and individuals have limited exposure to the litigation process. Therefore, they become uneasy when they find themselves in a situation where litigation is a possibility. But litigation is often an unfortunate reality of doing business. The veteran litigation attorneys of the law firm of Caulkins & Bruce, PC advise businesses and individuals throughout Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. They promote practical litigation strategies and counsel their clients to ensure they have realistic and accurate expectations regarding the litigation process.
The attorneys of Caulkins & Bruce endeavor to keep their clients informed regarding the litigation process. The following seeks to answer some common questions about the litigation process. But it should not be considered a substitute for tailored legal advice provided by an experienced attorney.
- How long does the litigation process take?
- What are the steps in the litigation process?
- What can I get out of litigation?
- Is it better to litigate in state or federal court?
- What is alternative dispute resolution?
- I’ve been sued. What should I do?
A Northern Virginia law firm that keeps its clients informed
Caulkins & Bruce’s litigation lawyers believe that, at the commencement of a case, clients need to be aware of what to expect in the litigation process and are entitled to an assessment of their case. The attorneys keep clients informed of the progress of the case and carefully advise them of their options at each stage of the case. Although litigation can be unpredictable, Caulkins & Bruce works closely with clients throughout the course of the litigation to minimize surprise so that clients can understand their risks and make wise business decisions regarding the case. To learn more, contact their law office today.
It depends on the individual case, but in state courts in Virginia, cases generally take approximately a year between the time the suit is filed and trial. The time period from filing of a lawsuit to trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is even shorter. These time periods are less than cases filed in most other courts throughout the County. The litigation lawyers of Caulkins & Bruce are familiar with the comparatively fast pace of litigation proceedings in the courts of Northern Virginia and know what the courts require of counsel and parties.
The exact process differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But it usually begins with pleadings. The plaintiff files and serves a complaint that outlines the factual and legal grounds of its case. The defendant files a response as well as other objections and may also raise counterclaims against the plaintiff or even third parties. Once pleadings are closed, the parties begin discovery — utilizing interrogatories, depositions and subpoenas to gather information regarding the case. Throughout this process, settlement negotiations are usually ongoing. Once discovery concludes, if the case has not resolved, the case will go to trial before a judge or a jury. The parties may also elect to use mediation or arbitration to avoid the expense and delay of trial.
The relief available depends on the nature of the case. If you are the party seeking recovery, the most common form of relief sought is monetary compensation. In a case involving a breach of contract, this can mean monetary compensation for losses caused by the defendant’s breach or restitution for money already expended under the contract. Under certain statutes, and for certain types of non-contractual claims, the relief sought can also include items such as punitive damages or attorney fees. In some cases, a plaintiff may also seek injunctive relief — a court order requiring the defendant to take some action or refrain from some action.
There is no clear answer to this question. And depending on the cause of action, the parties may not have a choice. There are many factors that need to be considered. For example, federal courts only hear cases based on federal law or cases between citizens of different states. They may hear related claims arising under state law as well. Conventional wisdom states that litigating in state court is cheaper and faster than litigating in federal court. But that is not always the case. Certain federal courts such as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia — the famed “rocket docket” — have a reputation for moving cases through the process quickly. The trial lawyers at Caulkins & Bruce draw upon their substantial litigation experience in both state and federal courts when providing a client advice as to the best court for its particular case.
Alternative dispute resolution has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the expense and the rising numbers of cases in state and federal courts. Mediation is essentially a controlled negotiation where the parties present their respective cases and attempt to arrive at a mutual solution with the help of an impartial mediator. Arbitration is similar to a trial where each party presents witnesses and evidence to an arbitrator (or a panel of impartial arbitrators) who ultimately renders a binding decision.
Once served with a lawsuit, it is important to consult an experienced litigation attorney immediately. Defendants must file a response to a lawsuit, and the manner in which they respond can have a significant and continuing impact on the case. Moreover, there is a limited time to respond, and failing to do so within the prescribed time limits can lead to a default judgment against the defendant.