California civil litigation

A Basic Overview of the California Civil Litigation Process

A civil case is a legal conflict between two parties, which can include individuals, businesses, or government organizations. The aim of such a lawsuit is usually to obtain compensation for damages or money. However, pursuing compensation in a civil lawsuit can be a challenging process. In this guide, we hope to provide you with a better understanding of the civil litigation process in California.

Filing the Complaint

To start a civil lawsuit, the Plaintiff must first draft and file a document called a complaint. This document explains to the court and the Defendant what exactly the Plaintiff is suing for. The Defendant must be personally served with the complaint within 60 days of the complaint being filed.

Filing an Answer To the Complaint

After the lawsuit is served, the Defendant will have 30 days to respond with either an answer or a demurrer. An answer is a simple admission or denial of the allegations made by the Plaintiff. On the other hand, a demurrer is a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of it being defective. However, if the Defendant files a demurrer, the Plaintiff will also have a chance to file an opposition to it.  

The Discovery Process

Once a complaint is served, the discovery phase can begin. This is the stage in a legal case where both parties gather and exchange information and evidence that is relevant to their respective cases. The purpose of this process is to allow both sides to build strong arguments, understand the other party’s claims, and sometimes even reach a settlement without needing to go to trial.

Filing A Motion for Summary Judgment

Once the discovery phase of a legal case is complete, either party can file a motion for summary judgment. This motion essentially tells the court that a side is entitled to a decision in their favor without having to go to trial. If the court finds that there is a dispute regarding the material facts, the summary motion will likely be denied. However, if there is no genuine issue of material fact, the court may grant the summary judgment in favor of one of the parties. 

Heading To Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached, the civil case may proceed to trial and be decided by a judge or jury. During the trial, Plaintiff will have the burden of proof, generally by a preponderance of the evidence standard. After both parties present their case, the judge or jury will deliberate and come up with a verdict. If the judgment is in favor of the Defendant, the case will be over. However, if the case is in favor of the Plaintiff, the judge or jury will also need to determine the amount of financial damages the Plaintiff will be owed. 

Contact Herrera Clifton Hess Today To Learn More About the Civil Litigation Process

Although the above steps give a brief overview of what occurs throughout the civil litigation process in California, if you have any further questions or need more information about this unique process, contact the law firm of Herrera Clifton Hess online or call us at 805-322-3460.