Have you ever wondered how a lawsuit really works? Is what you see on TV reality?
We have all seen the stereotypical portrayal of the civil justice system on TV and movies. A dispute becomes a lawsuit. Next thing you know, a compelling courtroom drama unfolds in front of a jury. The lawyers on both sides scream “OBJECTION!” a lot. The judge gets really aggravated at one of the lawyers’ questions to a witness and says sternly “I’ll allow it, but this better be going somewhere!” Soon after that the jury comes out in a dramatic scene and reads the verdict. One person is elated. Another person is feeling pretty peeved.
So, is this real? For the most part, no, this is not what real world civil litigation looks like.
First of all, most civil disputes never end up in litigation. (“Litigation” is a fancy word for lawsuit). Most civil (non-criminal) disputes are settled before a lawsuit ever gets filed. That is certainly true with respect to most personal injury claims such as car accident cases.
For the fairly small percentage of civil disputes that cannot be settled, a lawsuit is filed. Even then, most cases are settled before they ever get to trial. It is quite common in cases involving serious injury or medical negligence for a case to settle shortly before, or even during the trial.
The litigation process is not nearly as dramatic or quick as what you see on TV. In a future blog, I plan to outline the basics of how a lawsuit really works.