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Do Most Civil Claims Go To Trial To Recover Damages?


Video Transcript

” 0:00 do most civil claims go to trial to

0:02 recover damages most cases do not go to

0:05 trial to recover damages in fact most

0:08 cases don’t go to trial period most

0:12 cases are settled out of court usually

0:14 by attorneys”

No. Contrary to what television would have you believe, only approximately 9% of cases seeking damages go to trial. Most cases are settled in the pre-trial litigation phases. Taking a case to trial is expensive and usually only occurs between extremely contentious opponents, it is usually more economically efficient for both parties to settle out of trial.

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Since trial can be a lengthy and expensive legal process, most civil claims do not go to trial to recover damages. Often, parties involved in a civil case settle the case through a mutual agreement. However, if there is a disagreement, generally, the plaintiff may consider filing a civil lawsuit in a civil court.

On the other side of things, criminal cases do not work the same way as civil cases, and the defendant may plead guilty through a plea bargain with the government resulting in some leniency in sentencing.

Before considering legal action after suffering an injury in an accident due to another’s fault, it is important to consult with Ehline Law’s experienced personal injury attorney. We can help assess your case and guide you through the legal process of your civil case. 

Is It Important to Hire an Attorney for a Lawsuit?

Injured victims can represent themselves in civil lawsuits, but it is often difficult, especially in complicated cases. If you decide to pursue legal action without a personal injury attorney, the same evidence and civil procedure rules that apply to a licensed attorney will apply to you.

You will not receive legal advice from the judges or the court clerks, nor will they explain your rights or legal obligations. Speaking to an experienced attorney is crucial to increase your chances of obtaining compensation.

Are There Any Fees That I Have to Pay When Filing a Lawsuit?

Injured victims typically have to pay a filing fee when pursuing civil suits, but if you’re financially unable to pay court fees, you may ask to file as an “indigent,” which would delay the payments.

Is There a Time Limit to File Civil Cases?

The statute of limitations varies from state to state, which explains the time constraints for civil cases, and the time restrictions may also vary depending on your specific case. 

It is in your best interests to speak to an experienced attorney to get more information about your case.

Do I Have to File My Lawsuit in Small Claims Court?

There are three types of courts, and depending on your case, you could file it in a small claims court, District Court, or the Supreme Court.

When an injured party requests compensatory damages less than $10,000, they may pursue their case in a small claims court.

On the other hand, a District Court handles most cases where the plaintiff requests up to $25,000 in damages, and lawsuits challenging state laws or where the plaintiff requests more than $25,000 head to the Supreme Court.

Does It Matter Which County I File My Lawsuit In?

There are specific rules for different types of cases and factors that affect where you should file your lawsuit, including:

  • Where the dispute occurred

  • Where the parties reside.

Do All Civil Trials Happen Before a Jury?

Not all civil trials happen before a jury, and parties may request a jury trial. If not, the court may hold a “bench trial,” where the parties must present their arguments before the judge, who will then decide the case. Many plaintiffs’ lawyers think the case will receive lower special damages and general damages, for example, doing a trial by a judge. Other types of lawyers like defendants, feel trial by judge is best for them to pay less on claims.

How Does the Court Process Work?

To start the lawsuit process, the plaintiff files a complaint, and if you’ve been served with a complaint, you must contact an experienced attorney. 

Your first step would be to file an answer within 30 days to the plaintiff’s concerns. Otherwise, you risk a judgment against you.

It is important to understand that a personal injury lawsuit is civil, meaning it will not appear on your criminal record but will show on the public record, unlike a criminal case. The documents filed in court are open to the public. However, there are certain exceptions where confidentiality is observed.

The plaintiff may make a request from the court for a trial date, and you can contact the Clerk of the Superior Court’s Office to know your court date. A person will usually call you back, assuming you can get through their busy switchboard for initial contact.

What Is the Discovery Process?

The discovery process is part of a civil lawsuit and allows the parties to legally acquire documents related to the suit from each other before the trial. It will enable the parties involved to learn more about the case and any evidence that may not be readily available which can be used in the trial.

Any party or individual people involved in a civil case may serve discovery requests after the complaint is filed, and they do not need permission from the judge to request documents. Not all cases go through the discovery process since it can be expensive and, in some cases, not required.

What Is a Deposition?

A deposition allows a lawyer to ask crucial questions to the individuals and witnesses deposed, which act as testimonies taken in front of the attorneys with a court reporter present. To take a deposition, the party must send a notice of deposition before the parties can proceed with this litigation.

Failure to respond to a deposition notice can lead to an “order to compel” from the court, and failure to comply with that may lead to sanctions or payment of attorneys fees. The costs of depositions vary, and are taken out of the settlement or verdict. If the case is settled after the settlement offer is accepted, you will need to file dismissal papers with the court before you can get paid.

More About Judgments and Recoveries

A judgment is the court’s decision on a case’s parties’ rights and obligations, and if there is a mutual agreement between the parties, they may sign a “consent judgment.” After the judge signs the consent judgment, it becomes a court order which resolves these disputes once and for all, depending on the circumstances.

The other party can recover compensation if they have mutually decided on a settlement, and the court’s clerk will record the judgment. Receiving party must file a Certificate of Payment as proof once they receive the payment.

The plaintiff may request the writ of execution if they don’t receive the due payment, in which case, the local sheriff has the right to seize and sell the defendant’s non-exempt real and personal property to pay for their compensation.

If there is no settlement and the case goes to trial, the judge or jury will award compensation based on the facts of the case. In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

Do you need help with arbitration or trial in a personal injury civil dispute? Our attorneys will discuss the case with you and let you know your legal options to get any wrongdoing against you or a close loved one resolved.

If you suffered injuries in an accident that was not your fault, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may qualify for compensation. Our successful, award-winning trial lawyers are waiting for your call 24/7.

Michael Ehline


Michael Ehline in Tuxedo

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his JD from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. He compassionately helps clients recover after serious injuries.

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