Litigation Lawyers in St. Joseph County
"Civil procedure" refers to the wide variety of rules that regulate the process of civil litigation in St. Joseph County, Indiana. It does not deal with the substantive rights that the litigation system is meant to safeguard, just the process by which it protects them.
The rules of civil procedure in St. Joseph County, Indiana are designed to make the process of civil litigation as efficient, inexpensive, simple, and fair as possible.
Civil litigation in St. Joseph County, Indiana is almost never a simple process. So, the rules controlling this process can't always be simple, either. Remember, civil procedure governs every single step of the civil litigation process, which can drag on for years.
Major St. Joseph County, Indiana Civil Procedure Issues
Complaint: When somebody believes that they have suffered a legal wrong in St. Joseph County, Indiana, and decide to file a lawsuit, the initial document that they file with the court is typically the complaint. The complaint is very significant, because it can frame the factual and legal issues, and set the tone, for the rest of the process. The complaint normally contains every factual allegation against the defendant that forms the basis of the plaintiff's lawsuit. It also contains a prayer for relief, in which the plaintiff lays out his or her desired remedies, if the court finds the defendant liable.
Answer: Once the complaint is filed, the ball is in the defendant's court, so to speak. In the answer, the defendant has an chance to respond to all of the factual allegations made by the plaintiff, typically by denying them. The defendant might also raise affirmative defenses, which could keep the defendant from being held liable. For instance, if the defendant is accused of battery, and he did, in fact, batter the plaintiff, he might admit to that fact, but claim that the plaintiff was the aggressor, and he acted purely in self-defense. If he can establish that he acted in self-defense, he likely will not be held liable.
Discovery: Once the initial documents have been filed by both parties in the proper St. Joseph County, Indiana court, the discovery process begins. "Discovery" refers to a wide range of disclosures that each side of the lawsuit must make to the other. Basically, everyone involved in the lawsuit has to disclose every piece of information in their possession (with some exceptions) that's relevant to the factual issues in the case. There are a few different methods that are employed in this procedure: each side can send written questions to the other, which must be answered under oath. They can additionally request documents, as well as access to physical evidence. They can also conduct depositions (in-person Q&A sessions) of parties and witnesses.
Trial: It is truly quite rare for civil lawsuits in St. Joseph County, Indiana to go to trial, since the rules of civil procedure in St. Joseph County highly encourage early resolution to cases by dismissal of lawsuits that have no merit, and negotiated settlement of those that do. Nonetheless, when neither of those things happen, the case goes to trial. This is when a judge and jury determine the questions of law and fact, respectively, raised in the case. The jury then issues a verdict, based on the evidence presented to them.
How Can a St. Joseph County, Indiana Lawyer Help?
If you're suing anyone, or are being sued, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, dealing with issues of civil procedure is going to be a fact of life for quite some time.
The rules of civil procedure in St. Joseph County, Indiana are not always simple or intuitive. With that in mind, it's very important to have a reliable attorney on your side, to help you through the process.