Types of Litigation

lawyer discussion with client

Individuals who believe they have been treated unfairly have several courses of action available to seek a remedy for their situation. Litigation can arise when two parties cannot come to a satisfactory resolution. The specific type of litigation will depend on the unique circumstances of the case.

However, there are several common types of litigation, as well as specific variants that frequently appear in courtrooms.

What Does Litigation Mean?

Litigation refers to the process of pursuing legal action. It encompasses more than just filing a lawsuit and includes all the preparatory work that happens before taking legal action. Because litigation is a broad term, it comprises various categories.

What is Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation occurs when someone wants to pursue monetary damages instead of pressing criminal charges against the other party. Many areas, such as personal injury, fall under the broader category of civil litigation.

Other examples of civil litigation include disputes between employers and employees, conflicts between landlords and tenants, intellectual property disagreements, antitrust issues, product malfunctions, and medical malpractice cases.

The Most Common Types of Civil Litigation

It is impossible to capture the full range of potential litigation scenarios because the term encompasses so much of the legal process. Nonetheless, certain types of litigation are much more prevalent than others.

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Here are the seven most common types of civil litigation, along with specific cases that fall within each category.

1. Personal Injury

injured man with hand fractured

Personal injury litigation constitutes a significant portion of the overall volume of litigation in courts. In fact, it is so common that many attorneys specialize exclusively in personal injury cases.

Personal injury refers to any litigation in which parties seek compensation for harm in civil court. Typically, this harm results from accidents, but it can also encompass emotional or mental damage. Personal injury falls under the category of tort lawsuits.

Recovering damages in a personal injury suit involves making the injured party whole again. This may include covering past expenses, compensating for future costs, or replacing possessions.

While car accidents and defective medical devices are common personal injury cases because they cause direct physical harm, there are other potential suits. For example, someone could sue for nursing home abuse, seeking compensation not only for physical harm but also for intangible elements such as emotional trauma.

2. Commercial/Business Litigation

Unlike other types of litigation, commercial litigation specifically deals with legal disputes between individuals and businesses or between businesses themselves. These conflicts may arise externally or within a business when a partner or shareholder takes legal action against the company they are associated with.

The most common types of commercial and business litigation include breaches of contract or fiduciary duties by partners or other parties (such as business vendors), copyright or trademark infringement, indemnity issues, and fraud. Additionally, defamation cases often involve both slander and libel within the realm of business litigation.

3. Contract Litigation

lawyer showing contract

Contracts are a regular part of everyday life, so disputes can occasionally arise from their use. From unenforceable stipulations to disagreements about whether one party has fulfilled the terms of a contract, contract litigation is a thriving field.

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Among the many types of contract litigation are disputes involving non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), consumer contracts (e.g., product warranties), and disagreements pertaining to rental leases, apartments, and cars.

4. Family Law Litigation

Family law is another highly popular branch of litigation. It encompasses the legal processes that families go through, including divorce, custody arrangements, and child support payments. These can be contentious issues that parties may be unable to resolve outside the courtroom.

In addition to these services, family law litigators typically handle adoptions, guardianship or conservatorship, paternity issues, prenuptial agreements, and may even work with restraining orders, depending on the context.

5. Class Action Litigation

Suing another party can be challenging, especially when many individuals have been wronged in similar ways. However, class action litigation allows people who have all suffered the same harm caused by the same party to file a joint lawsuit by combining their claims. One member may represent the group, or multiple members may do so.

Consumers often use class action lawsuits to hold companies accountable for issues such as exploitative contract terms or faulty products.

How Litigation Typically Proceeds

man with court gavel and balance scale

Litigation is a complex process, made even more complicated in certain situations, such as parallel proceedings. Before filing a lawsuit, the necessary information must be gathered, and the party being sued must be notified of the intent to sue.

Once the lawsuit is underway, a significant part of the process involves discovery, where both legal teams gather as much evidence as possible. This may include securing physical evidence, submitting interrogatories (questions from one legal team to the other), or other actions.

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At any point before the trial, either party can request a summary judgment from the judge. This allows the judge to make a decision based solely on the evidence presented so far, potentially resolving the case.

Another way to resolve the litigation before trial is through a settlement. Many parties find settlement appealing since it reduces the cost and timeline of further legal proceedings.

If a summary judgment or settlement is not reached, the litigation proceeds to trial, either decided by a judge or a jury.

Things to Know When Considering Litigation

For those considering litigation, it is essential to understand that the process can be costly. It also requires a significant investment of time, with discovery often taking up the most time.

litigation attorney writing on paper

In addition to hiring a competent litigation attorney, there are other legal fees to consider, such as motion filing fees, fees for interviews with witnesses or experts, and additional costs for physical copies of documents like transcripts and depositions. These expenses can accumulate quickly, making litigation impractical for some parties.

Furthermore, it can be challenging to determine whether a case is worth pursuing before filing. A knowledgeable litigation attorney specializing in personal injury can help assess the viability of your case from both a success and monetary perspective, enabling you to make an informed decision before investing significant time and money.

Trust the Legal Professionals to Help You Navigate Complex Litigation Issues

Whether you are considering litigation to seek compensation or are facing a lawsuit or criminal charges, it is crucial to consult with a legal professional.

The attorneys at Garrity Traina specialize in various types of litigation and can guide you through your options and help determine the best course of action. Visit Garrity Traina to learn more or schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your situation with our experienced legal team.