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  • Writer's pictureHandel & Carlini

How long does a lawsuit take?

Lawsuits can vary from case to case and there is no exact answer as to length. There are many determining factors that go into the length of any kind of lawsuit and the simple “truth” is that they all take time. Because of this, some lawsuits may even settle out of court before ever proceeding to trial. Regardless here is a very generalized description of how a lawsuit may proceed in a common law jurisdiction:

Pleading - A lawsuit begins when a complaint or petition, known as a pleading, is filed with the court. A complaint should explicitly state that one or more plaintiffs seek damages or equitable relief from one or more stated defendants, and also should state the relevant factual allegations supporting the legal claims brought by the plaintiff.

Pretrial discovery - A pretrial discovery can be defined as "the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial" and allows for the evidence of the trial to be presented to the parties before the initial trial begins.

Resolution - Usually, lawsuits end in a settlement, with an empirical analysis finding that less than 2% of cases end with a trial. It is sometimes said that 95% of cases end in settlement; few jurisdictions report settlements, but empirical analysis suggests that the settlement rate varies by type of lawsuit, with torts settling around 90% of the time and overall civil cases settling 50% of the time; other cases end due to default judgment, lack of a valid claim, and other reasons.

Appeal - After a final decision has been made, either party or both may appeal from the judgment if they believe there had been a procedural error made by the trial court. It isn't necessarily an automatic appeal after every judgment has been made, however, if there is a legal basis for the appeal, then one has the right to do so.

Enforcement - When a final judgment is entered, the plaintiff is usually barred under the doctrine of res judicata from relitigating any of the issues, even under different legal theories. Judgments are typically a monetary award.

Article credit: Wiki


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