The litigation process is complex and involves several stages or phases. The specific stages of the litigation process vary depending on the type of case and many other variables, but generally they include:
- Pre-litigation: This is the stage before a lawsuit is filed. It may involve attempts at negotiation or mediation to resolve the dispute, or sending a demand.
- Filing the complaint: This is the stage at which the lawsuit is officially initiated. The plaintiff (the party filing the lawsuit) files a complaint with the court, outlining the nature of the dispute and the relief sought.
- Service of process: After the complaint is filed, the defendant (the party being sued) must be formally notified of the lawsuit, which is typically done through service of process, such as by personal delivery or by other service of process methods depending on the type of a case and the relief sought.
- Discovery: This is the stage which takes up the bulk of the litigation during which both sides gather evidence and information about the case. This may include taking depositions, issuing subpoenas, asking written questions under oath, requesting and conducting document review.
- Pretrial motions: This is the stage during which the parties may file motions with the court, such as a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment and ask the court to dispose of some legal issues, to enforce civil procedure rules or to prevent the other party from doing something.
- Trial: If the case is not resolved through a motion or settlement, it will proceed to trial. This is the stage at which both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who will then make a decision. More than 95% of cases settle or get resolved through motion practice or mandatory to Florida mediation process prior to trial.
- Post-trial motions: This is the stage during which the parties may file motions with the court, such as a motion for a new trial, motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a motion to vacate the judgment.
- Appeal: If either party is not satisfied with the outcome of the trial, they may file an appeal with a higher court. Standard of review on appeal is stringent and not all unsatisfactory results are appealable.
The litigation process can be lengthy and costly, and it is important to have an experienced litigator to advise and guide you through the process. Understanding the intricacies of this process takes years to master. Doing it alone is not advisable because to undue what you may do is time consuming, costly, and often cannot be undone.