Civil lawsuits arise out of disputes between people, businesses, or other entities, including government entities. The nature and type of lawsuits vary from personal injury, divorce, collections, breach of contracts, landlord-tenant, etc. Most civil lawsuits generally proceed through distinct steps: pleadings, discovery, trial, and possibly an appeal. The majority of all lawsuits filed in civil court are settled prior to trial. Arbitration and/or mediation is a less expensive and faster alternative to a trial. The duration of a lawsuit depends on the issues of the case, the amount of discovery to be conducted, and court scheduling and availability. The parties, guided by the rules of court, usually decide the timing of discovery. Trial dates are set by the court. In New York City, it is not uncommon for a civil lawsuit to take 3-4 years to resolve. As a seasoned litigation attorney, Mr. Kaye possesses the skills, knowledge and experience gained through years of practice including;
● Knowledge of substantive and procedural law
● Strong written and oral advocacy skills
● Analytical and logical reasoning abilities
● Ability to synthesize complex legal and factual materials
● Interpersonal skills
● Negotiation skills
The Law Offices of Lawrence L. Kaye, P.C., will conduct an initial case investigation to determine, in the plaintiff’s case, if enough evidence exists to file a lawsuit or, in the defendant’s case, what evidence exists to defend a potential suit. This initial investigation may include locating witnesses, taking witness statements, gathering documents, interviewing the client and investigating the facts leading to the dispute. Mr. Kaye, will often engage in pre-litigation settlement discussions to resolve the matter before a lawsuit is filed.
If the matter cannot be resolved without litigation, an action will be commenced by the filing of a summons and complaint. This is followed by discovery.
The discovery process involves the exchange of relevant information between the parties. As a litigation attorney, Mr. Kaye can employ a variety of discovery devices to gain information relevant to the lawsuit. These devices include interrogatories, depositions, requests for production and requests for admission. Mr. Kaye may also examine physical evidence and inspect the scene of the accident.
A jury trial involves selecting a jury (voir dire) and the presentation of the case in court. There are separate and distinct phases of a trial, including opening and closing statements, examination and cross-examination of witnesses and the presentation of evidence. A verdict whether by the jury or by the court (non-jury), however, does not necessarily end the litigation. If the verdict is unfavorable, either party may appeal the case. A party may challenge a jury's verdict based upon errors of law committed by the trial court or a jury's disregard of law or evidence. A motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict asks the court to disregard the jury's verdict and enter a different decision. A motion for a new trial asks the court to set aside the jury's verdict and order a new trial of the case.
An appeal asks a higher court to review the trial court proceeding. The parties present their arguments in briefs, which are submitted to the appellate court along with the record of evidence from the trial court. The appellate court usually reviews a case for legal error only. Except under unusual circumstances, the appellate court will not review factual evidence or override a jury's findings of fact. The appellate court will affirm the verdict if it finds that there was no error in the trial court proceeding. However, if there was an error, the appellate court can reverse the verdict or order the trial court to conduct a new trial. An appeal can extend the litigation process by a year or more. Appeals are not customarily covered in retainer agreements, so that a separate retainer for the appeal is usually entered into with appellate costs and attorneys’ fees chargeable to the client.
As an alternative to trial, the parties may be able to negotiate a settlement with the help of a neutral third party, known as a "mediator." The mediator's job is to assist the parties' settlement efforts. The parties select the mediator, who meets privately with each party to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each side's case. The mediator helps the parties identify the risks of the case and encourages them to consider how those risks can affect their goals. The mediator does not have the power to force the parties to agree on a settlement. Usually, the mediator’s decision is not binding upon the parties.
Arbitration, on the other hand, is an adversarial proceeding in which the parties select a neutral third party, called an "arbitrator," to resolve their dispute. In arbitration, the parties present evidence and argue the case to the arbitrator, who then decides which party wins. The process is abbreviated and less formal than a trial. Arbitration often arises from private agreement, but many courts also require the parties to smaller disputes to explore arbitration as an alternative to trial. Parties who agree to settle their dispute using binding arbitration usually cannot appeal the arbitrator's ruling to a court.
Whether you're an individual or a small business, defendant or plaintiff, you need the advice and guidance of a litigator who has experience with all aspects of civil litigation. The Law Offices of Lawrence L. Kaye, P.C. can prepare and file your lawsuit while continuing to try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. And if the disagreement can't be resolved amicably, the Law Offices of Lawrence L. Kaye, P.C., will work with you to develop a strategy, represent you in court and advocate on your behalf at trial. Don't head to court on your own!