Does Business Litigation Usually Go to Trial?
In the United States, the civil justice system is what individuals and businesses turn to when a dispute cannot be resolved by the parties themselves. Business litigation, in particular, may be the result of an individual who feels he/she has been wronged by a business, a business who has a complaint against an individual, or two businesses that cannot resolve a dispute. Whether you are an individual or a business, if you find yourself involved in litigation for the first time it can be intimidating. One of your primary concerns may be the possibility of your case going to trial. An Orange County trial specialist from Brown & Charbonneau explains how most business litigation is resolved and address the likelihood of a case going to trial.
Common Steps in the Business Litigation Process
Before focusing on the likelihood that your business litigation case will end up in a trial, it is a good idea to go over some common steps in the litigation process and learn what happens before the decision to go to trial is made. While every lawsuit is unique, the following are common steps leading up to a trial in business litigation:
- Demands, complaints, disputes – usually, the parties involved in a lawsuit make some attempt to resolve the problem before it becomes a lawsuit. For example, a demand for payment is made or a formal complaint is lodged. Only when it becomes clear that the other party is not responding to the demand or complaint does litigation become inevitable.
- Filing of the Complaint – civil litigation officially begins when the Plaintiff (the party who initiates the litigation) files a Complaint with the appropriate court. The Complaint provides basic information about the parties and sets forth the basis for the lawsuit.
- Notice to the opposing party – the Plaintiff must serve the Defendant with a copy of the Complaint and a Summons. The Summons informs the Defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him/her/it and provides the date by which a written Answer must be received by the court.
- Filing of the Answer – in California, a defendant has 30 days within which to file an Answer or risk waiving the right to participate in the litigation at all.
- Disclosures and discovery – if the defendant files an Answer, the next phase of the litigation involves disclosures and discovery. Certain information is required to be “disclosed” while other information relevant to the litigation may be shared during the “discovery” process.
Alternatives to a Trial
At some point, after the discovery process is underway, the parties typically enter into settlement negotiations of their own accord. If it appears that no effort has been made to try and settle a case without the need for a trial, most judges will encourage the parties to work toward a settlement. Likewise, the parties may elect to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) option, such as mediation, on their own or the court may order the parties to do so. Mediation is conducted by a trained mediator who remains neutral while helping both sides try and reach a settlement. Mediation is a very effective alternative to trial, particularly when all parties involved are motivated to resolve the dispute. If a settlement is reached, the terms of the settlement are submitted to the court for approval and the need for a trial is averted.
When a Trial Cannot Be Avoided
According to available statistics, approximately 90-95 percent of all civil lawsuits are resolved without the need to go to trial. Consequently, the odds that your business litigation will end up going to trial are slim. The cost, both in terms of time and money, of taking a case to trial is usually a powerful incentive to avoid a trial. Nevertheless, there are times when a trial simply cannot be avoided which is one of the many reasons why you need an experienced Orange County trial specialist on your side throughout the litigation process. The reality is that knowing your adversary is prepared to go to trial and win is often just the incentive a litigant needs to agree to an out of court settlement that avoids the need for a trial.
Contact an Orange County Trial Specialist
If you have additional questions or concerns about business litigation and the likelihood your case will go to trial, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Orange County trial specialist at Brown & Charbonneau as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 714-406-4397 to schedule your appointment.