Many people have misconceptions about the civil litigation process. Many of these misconceptions can directly affect how people try to conduct themselves during this stressful and hard-to-understand process, leading to a misunderstanding of what exactly is happening with their case.
1. Every lawsuit must be filed with a lawyer.
While it is true that having a lawyer greatly improves your chances in the courtroom, this is not always necessary. Many lawsuits never make it to the courtroom. They either settle or are stopped by law enforcement before that happens. This occasionally leads people to believe that they do not need a lawyer just because their case was dismissed. In many cases, what happened was law enforcement discovered an error in the paperwork during the initial filing and corrected it before the case ever got to court.
If you are filing your lawsuit with a lawyer, they can provide this evidence on your behalf as they should already be working on this. If you chose to represent yourself, it is your job to compile and respond to any contradicting information properly. Doing this without the help of an attorney is much more difficult and time-consuming, but you must do so nonetheless. Failure to accurately respond will almost certainly lead to an unfavorable result for your case.
2. Every lawsuit must have a trial in front of a jury.
While this is not always necessary, it does reserve you the right to a jury trial. If the defendant in your case agrees to take the case to trial and if it goes to trial, you will be entitled to a jury trial. However, you will not be entitled to one if your attorney simply decides that they do not want one. While this is not the best practice, it is not illegal, and if you are dealing with a large corporation or someone who simply has enough money to pay for a lawyer anyhow, this may be a reasonable option.
3. Every lawsuit is always a high-stakes fight for money.
This myth is partially true. While this may not affect how you go about filing your case, it will affect how you present your argument. It may even determine the steps you take during the process of litigation.
If the result of your court case could mean bankruptcy or other large disasters for the people involved, this should be considered a high-stakes case. It can be easy to forget this when several years pass between the initial occurrence and the filing of the lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that the outcome of your case could have a very large impact on other people’s lives.
4. Every lawsuit must be filed in court on Monday at 10:00 AM MDT.
While this is true in some cases, it is not always necessary for you to file on Monday at 10:00 AM MDT. Many lawsuits are filed much earlier than this. Some are filed in the middle of the night or even on a weekend. Many lawyers choose to file during specific days simply because it is what they are used to from working in courtrooms and with attorneys. In reality, you can file whenever it is most convenient for you as long as all of your paperwork is filed correctly and completely.
If you do this, you must also remember to follow your local rules for serving the defendant. You will probably have to have someone serve your paperwork in person wherever that person may live. There are requirements that you must meet to properly serve your paperwork and the amount of time you have to do it varies by state. This will be true regardless of when you file your paperwork during the week or on a weekend.
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