Massachusetts Legal Blog

What is Civil Litigation? The Litigation Process and Laws in Massachusetts

Civil Litigation Simplified

There are situations where people may have been overtly wronged or hurt; yet there is no criminal recourse or action to be taken against that individual or business. Just because a situation is not a criminal matter doesn’t mean you don’t have any means of redemption or a way to secure damages that may be needed to overcome the wrong that has been done to you. This is when a civil litigation attorney in Massachusetts can help protect you and your rights. Your rights may have been violated due to someone else’s negligence, injuries may have been suffered or a contract may have been broken or mishandled in some way. Breach of duty–such as within products liability, unsafe practices, property hazards—such as from a construction company and building code violations, or personal injury in the form of physical injuries or mental trauma from an accident are just a few of the common issues solved through the civil courts of Massachusetts. Other situations that fall under the realm of civil litigation can include disputes over intellectual property, fiduciary duty, workers compensation disputes and real estate matters between landlords and tenants, amongst other scenarios that may warrant legal civil action.

Process of a Civil Litigation Case in Massachusetts

If you feel your current situation warrants the pursuance of a civil claim or you are in a position where you must defend yourself against a civil suit, the first step will be filing a complaint. The formal complaint should be a short and plain statement of the facts, outlining the exact harm that was incurred and the relief sought. Assuming no counter-claims are raised by the defendant, discovery then commences.

Discovery is the formal exchange of information before trial. Discovery is divided into written discovery and oral discovery.
Once discovery is or nearly complete, a pre-trial conference will examine the current status of the action, and whether settlement is a plausible resolution for the parties.

This is a succinct assessment of the pre-trial civil litigation schedule in Massachusetts. Not all cases follow such a trajectory.

How Long Can a Civil Litigation Case Take?

Since no two civil litigation cases are exactly alike, there is no way to predict the outcome, length of the process or the various routes a case may take. Typically in Massachusetts, most civil litigation cases are resolved through a settlement agreement. A settlement is usually offered quickly in the beginning and with a more favorable resolution when the plaintiff who brought the case forward has a civil litigation attorney in their corner. However, if an initial settlement is turned down or inadequate, the case can go on for months or even years. It is crucial to understand some situations require quicker action than others as there may be a statute of limitations for seeking damages. It is best to secure legal representation quickly as your attorney will inform you of any statutes or time limits that may be pertain to your situation.
Possible Paths to Resolution

While a settlement before reaching trial is the most common resolution, there are other options that may apply as a possible resolution to your case. An alternative-dispute resolution process may work. This is where a third party directs negotiations and works to outline the strengths and weaknesses of both sides with a compromise as an end goal. The opinion or ruling of a mediator is not a “set in stone” ruling, but merely a guided and educated suggestion that may benefit both sides. Some courts will encourage both sides of a civil litigation case to go through an arbitration process. An arbitration resolution is typically quick and the decision is an ultimate resolution that both sides will agree to abide by.

Importance of Seeking Legal Guidance

Any kind of civil litigation case can be much complicated than expected for either side. There are typically laws, statutes, regulations and codes involved that the layman may not know to utilize or how to defend themselves against. There is also the time, research and expense involved in securing expert witnesses and proper documentation related to the case. Going at it alone can be both financially and emotionally taxing. The civil litigation experts at Shapiro legal have the experience, resources and ability to fight for the outcome you deserve. The damages you may be seeking may mean the difference between struggling for years to come, financial ruin or perhaps being able to overcome the wrong that may have altered your life forever. When there is so much at stake, securing the help and guidance of the skilled legal professionals at the Shapiro Law Group, PC should be the first step you take to getting the resolution you want.

By Anna Shapiro