Civil Litigation

What is the civil litigation process like?

Civil litigation is a multi-step process that includes a complaint, an answer, discovery, trial, and post-trial motions. It also may involve an appeal.

The pleading step begins the process and involves the plaintiff filing a complaint and the defendant filing an answer. The discovery step is essentially the gathering and exchange of evidence. This usually includes written requests for information and depositions of the parties and witnesses, if necessary. The trial, if the case reaches trial and does not end in an out-of-court settlement, is the portion of the process when both sides argue their case in front of a judge or jury. And post-trial the losing party may file an appeal.

What is a trial process?

Most people think of the trial process as arguing a case in front of a judge and jury in a courtroom, but it is actually far more detailed than that. It includes several steps, such as:

  • Pleading: complaint, answer, and motions
  • Pretrial: discovery, including written questions and depositions.
  • Trial: jury seating, testimony from plaintiff and defendant
  • Conclusion of trial: closing arguments, judge’s charge to the jury, deliberations, announcement of verdict
  • Post trial, motions for a new trial or appeal

What is the difference between civil and commercial litigation?

Commercial litigation is a type of civil litigation that involves business matters and generally involves business entities such as a corporation or limited liability companies. It may involve construction contracts for insurance coverage disputes. Civil litigation generally is between two or more individuals. As far as the procedures of both types of cases, they are very similar and involve the same steps: pleading, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial. Most civil cases settle before trial.

How long does it take for a civil lawsuit to settle?

The length of time it takes to resolve a civil lawsuit varies from case to case. It depends on how complicated the case is, how many people are involved, how willing parties are to settle, and whether or not all the information is even available to negotiate a settlement. For instance, if a person is dealing with injuries, it could take doctors a while to make a diagnosis. In general, most civil cases settle within 12 months to two years.

Can you go to jail for a civil lawsuit?

No, you can only go to jail in a criminal case. However, it is possible for there to be both civil and criminal charges against you related to the same matter. It is also possible that a person can be found guilty or innocent in a criminal case not be subjected to a similar outcome in a civil case. The judgment in a civil case most often involves a monetary award.

Probate Litigation

How do you contest a will in probate?

Contesting a will can be a complex process, so it is important to work with an attorney who understands the laws and procedures in your state. Before you can move forward, you must have provable grounds for contesting. It is a legal process, and like most legal processes, it takes time.

Can you get letters testamentary without probate?

No, the Probate Court issues letters of appointment to the fiduciary. This enables the fiduciary (executor) to act on behalf of the estate.

What types of assets are subject to probate?

Probate is the legal process by which a last will and testament is proven. Assets subject to probate include anything owned by a deceased person that cannot pass to a beneficiary without the court overseeing the process. The assets commonly subject to probate include individual assets such as bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds, vehicles, boats, airplanes, business interests, and real estate, tenants-in-common property, and any assets not included in a trust.

Can There Be Litigation when there is a Trust?

Yes, litigation may be necessary even when there is a trust in place with assets. Those who are the beneficiaries under the trust might bring litigation to determine whether or not the trust was signed by the deceased person when he or she had capacity to enter into such an agreement. Trusts are legal documents and must be signed by a person of sound mind and who is not under duress.

Can a Decision Made By the Probate Court Judge Be Appealed?

Yes, in Ohio a final judgment can be appealed to the Court of Appeals from a lower court. In order to prevail on an appeal, you must be able to show either an error in application of the law, erroneous jury instructions if applicable, or that the decision below was against the manifest weight of the evidence.