Relationships can become fractured, and social duties can be breached, resulting in serious harm. While there are some disputes that can be worked out without recourse to the court system, when a serious dispute arises, it is useful to have the help of a skillful litigator. At Leopold Law, Bergen County litigation lawyer Howard Leopold handles cases on behalf of both individuals and corporations in Northern New Jersey.Protecting Your Interests During Litigation
Civil litigation is distinct from criminal prosecution. When someone is criminally prosecuted, they are on trial for a crime, and the prosecutor must prove their case by a very high burden of proof: beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof in civil litigation varies depending on the cause of action, but it is not as high as beyond a reasonable doubt.
Civil actions between individuals and entities can be used to resolve disputes related to divorce, personal injury, contractual breaches, wills and trusts, real estate and land use, collections, employment issues, and more. In some cases, such as when one or more of the parties involved with the dispute are corporations, business issues such as partnership disputes or shareholder disputes may arise.
In some cases, the parties may try to work out a dispute prior to the filing of a complaint. However, in most cases, the first step that a litigation attorney in Bergen County will take on your behalf is the filing of a complaint. The complaint should be filed in the appropriate court. If federal issues are at stake, the complaint should be filed in federal court. However, much of civil litigation happens in the state court system, including both family law disputes and personal injury matters.
There is a window of time within which civil litigation may be initiated. This window is known as the statute of limitations. If you try to file a lawsuit beyond this window, the other party will usually try to get the case dismissed on the ground that it is barred by the statute of limitations.
Once the complaint is filed, it needs to be served on the party being sued (the defendant). The defendant has a certain time period within which to respond. The response may be an answer, counterclaims, or cross-claims, or it may be a motion, such a motion to dismiss for a failure to state a claim. There may be some initial motion practice, such as a response to the motion by the plaintiff or an amendment to the complaint to keep the case going.
The next stage that a Bergen County litigation attorney will handle, assuming that the plaintiff's claim or claims survive, is discovery. Discovery is a process whereby the parties try to obtain facts and evidence to prove their position. Discovery can include written interrogatories, requests for admissions, physical or mental exams as appropriate, and depositions. For example, if there is a commercial dispute over a breach of contract to which a business defendant raised a number of seemingly valid defenses, the plaintiff would use this stage to take depositions of the people most knowledgeable about the facts related to these particular defenses within the defendant’s company. In a personal injury lawsuit in which liability is fairly clear, by contrast, a defendant might use a combination of depositions and discovery to uncover information to show that the plaintiff was at least partially to blame and to limit the amount of damages. In some cases, motion practice is again needed at this stage because one or both parties do not comply with discovery requests for valid or invalid reasons.
After discovery, either party may bring a motion for summary judgment. The court may order settlement conferences or alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, the case proceeds to trial. Very few cases actually go to trial, and even fewer go to a verdict. Often, however, cases settle just before reaching trial. The chances of a good settlement are usually higher if you retain an attorney with a strong reputation in the courtroom.Consult a Resourceful Litigation Lawyer in Bergen County
Litigation can quickly become expensive and stressful. It is important to choose a litigator whom you trust. Our dedicated legal team at Leopold Law may be able to represent you in a civil action in Northern New Jersey or possibly New York. We serve clients in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, and Essex Counties, among other areas. Call Leopold Law at (201) 345-5907 or contact us via our online form to set up a consultation.