civil litigation

Overview of Civil Litigation in California: From Filing to Resolution

There are two main types of lawsuits: criminal and civil lawsuits. When someone is accused of a crime, and the government charges them, it is referred to as a criminal lawsuit. On the other hand, civil lawsuits cover a broad range of legal disputes, including contract breaches, divorce proceedings, and personal injury cases. However, while many people may have heard of civil litigation cases, not everyone understands what civil litigation entails. That is why, in this guide, we will provide a detailed overview of civil litigation cases in California, from filing the lawsuit to its resolution.

What Is a Civil Case?

The civil court is a legal platform where people and organizations can resolve their conflicts. Typically, two parties are involved in a civil case—the plaintiff, who files the case, and the defendant, who is being sued. Depending on the nature of the civil case, parties may require a court, bench, or jury trial. However, it is important to note that, unlike criminal cases, there is no right to an attorney in a civil case.

In civil cases, these disputes generally involve the following actions: 

  • A party asks the court to compel an individual, business, government agency, or other entity to do or stop doing a specific act. 
  • A party requests financial recovery for the harm and losses they endured. 
  • A party wants to enforce the terms of a contract or get help to interpret unclear terms. 

The Civil Litigation Process

Although the regulations and laws involving California court cases are vast, in general, the civil litigation process includes the following steps:

  • A party, known as the plaintiff, will start by filing a lawsuit (the complaint) with the courts in California. 
  • The plaintiff will serve the complaint on the defendant, within 60 days.
  • The defendant will file a response, which will include either an answer, a demurrer, which is a motion to dismiss, or a motion to strike. The answer may also contain a cross-complaint against the plaintiff or other parties.
  • After the parties have responded, the court will determine what is at issue. 
  • The next step in the process will be discovery. This process involves investigating the facts of the case and includes written interrogatory questions and depositions.
  • The court will also eventually set a Case Management Conference (CMC), where the judge will make certain pre-trial orders, including setting dates related to the trial.
  • At this point, most civil cases will either have been dismissed or settled. However, if it is required, the next step is heading to trial. 
  • Post-judgment, either side can file post-trial motions. The parties can also appeal the final judgment. However, an appeal can extend the litigation process by years. 

Contact Herrera Clifton Hess Today To Review Your Case

If you are interested in learning more about the civil litigation process in California or want to discuss your case with an experienced California civil litigation attorney, contact Herrera Clifton Hess today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.