Civil litigation is a means of resolving a dispute involving any matter that does not involve a criminal charge. Generally criminal charges must be brought by a prosecutor or police agency. Civil cases can be brought by anyone. Civil litigation generally involves the investigation and presentation of a civil claim that is resolved through a trial, arbitration, mediation, or settlement.
Civil suits usually seek some form of remedy. It may be a request for money damages, but it can also include requests for what the law calls “equitable relief”. This form of relief may involve a judge ordering a party to do (or refrain from doing) something. An example of equitable relief could be a request to compel a party to turn over a valuable piece of property to the other party. This property could be something immovable such as real estate, or it could involve something personal and movable such as a work of art. Judges have considerable power to make equitable awards in the right circumstances.
Civil litigation is expensive. In addition to the attorney fees, there are costs of depositions, expert witnesses, court filing fees, etc. Further, once you start in civil litigation, the case can have a life of its own, and you may find yourself incurring continuing expenses with no real way to stop the process.
In most cases, the individual litigant is responsible for his or her own legal expenses. In some cases, you may be able to compel others to pay your expenses. In still other cases, you may obtain an award of costs and attorney fees at the end of the case, but only if you win.
Claims involving an insurance policy are a common area of civil litigation. There are a number of laws that are designed to protect the rights of individuals in disputes with an insurance company. These laws allow for the award of attorney fees, and in some cases “exemplary damages”. This term refers to the award of punitive damages as an incentive to prevent the company from doing the same thing to others.
When we are initially asked to review a potential civil claim, we first try to identify any possible sources of funding that would relieve you of having to pay for the litigation yourself. If there are no such funding sources, we may accept the claim on a contingency fee basis, so you do not have to pay your own legal fees up front. With a contingent fee, we collect as our fee a set percentage of the recovery we obtain. You are not obligated to pay a fee unless you recover some form of remedy in the litigation of your claim.
Where there is no independent means of obtaining reimbursement for your legal fees, we sit down with you and provide an assessment of the risks and benefits of pursuing your civil claim. We always try to keep your best interests in mind and warn you of the potential dangers associated with pursuing a claim.
If you decide to pursue a claim through the civil litigation process, we strive to work efficiently and keep the costs reasonable, so the burden of litigation is not greater than necessary.
In this, as in all of the legal work we handle, we strive to keep our clients’ interest foremost. By taking proper care of our clients, we assure our good reputation and the continued success of our firm.