Lawsuit FAQ

1. What is civil litigation?

Civil litigation is simply the settlement of a controversy between private individuals or organizations. It is what is commonly referred to as a lawsuit.

2. Is a lawsuit the right thing to do in my situation?

In the end, only you can make that decision. If you are unsure, it would be wise to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney. Most attorneys will not charge you for an initial consultation.

You should think carefully before instituting a lawsuit. It is a serious affair that consumes both time and money. However, for certain controversies, a lawsuit is the best and most final way to decide and enforce your legal rights. Check with your attorney if you are not certain.

3. If I win a lawsuit, can I recover my attorney's fees?

Probably not. In our system of justice, each side pays their own attorney, regardless of the outcome of the case. This is not always the case, however. In some contract cases, if the contract specifies it, attorneys’ fees will be awarded to the prevailing party. California law may also allow the plaintiff to recover attorneys' fees not involving contracts. Your attorney will be able to advise you on whether his or her fees are recoverable.

4. How long will it take before my case goes to trial?

That depends on the nature of the case. The wait will vary depending on which court is to hear the case, how complicated the case is, and whether a jury will hear the case. Courts in California generally attempt to hear the case within one year to eighteen months of when the case is filed. Moreover, less complicated cases may be heard in a shorter period of time.

5. What is the Statute of Limitations?

All civil actions are subject to a time limit called the Statute of Limitations. This is the period determined by the legislature that you have to file a lawsuit and each case may have a different time period. Accordingly, after this time, unless extraordinary circumstances exist, the case cannot be brought to trial, regardless of its nature.

6. If I bring a lawsuit, can I still settle the case?

In almost every case, the answer is yes. Settlement is a legitimate aim of the legal process, and in many cases, it is the best result. Filing a lawsuit will not prevent you from settling your case with the other side while the suit is pending (waiting to go to trial).

7. Can I appeal if I lose a civil case?

There is no automatic right to appeal a civil judgment in California. In order to obtain an appeal, you must submit a timely Notice of Appeal to the relevant Appellate Court.

On the other hand, if you lose a civil case in a federal court, you have an automatic right to appeal the case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.