Individuals who feel that they have been wronged have several options when seeking a remedy for their situation. Litigation may occur when two parties fail to agree on a satisfactory resolution. The type of litigation will vary based on the specific details of the case.
However, the following are some of the most common types of litigation, as well as more specific variants that are frequently seen in courtrooms.
What Does Litigation Mean?
Litigation is a term that references the process of pursuing legal action. Litigation is broader in scope than a lawsuit and includes the preparatory work that occurs prior to filing a lawsuit. Because litigation is such a broad umbrella, it has many varieties.
What is Civil Litigation?
When someone wants to secure monetary damages rather than pursue criminal charges against the other party, they participate in civil litigation. Many areas (as with personal injury, mentioned above) fall within the larger umbrella of civil litigation.
Other examples include disputes between workers and their employers, disagreements among landlords and tenants, intellectual property disputes, antitrust issues, problems when products malfunction and even medical malpractice.
The Most Common Types of Civil Litigation
It is impossible to entirely capture the full scope of potential litigation scenarios, because the term itself encapsulates so much of the legal process. However, some types of litigation are significantly more common than others.
Here are the seven most common types of litigation, as well as the more specific cases that can fall within each scope.
1. Personal Injury
Personal injury litigation represents a substantial portion of the overall volume of litigation seen by the courts. In fact, it is so common that many attorneys specialize only in personal injury and give their attention primarily to these types of cases.
Personal injury refers to any type of litigation in which the parties go to civil court in an attempt to secure recompense for harm. Most commonly, this is harm that has occurred in an accident, but it need not be physical in nature; it can be emotional or mental damage as well. Personal injury is a type of tort lawsuit.
The process of recovering damages in a personal injury suit requires that the offending party make the injured party “whole” again. This may include paying for expenses that have already occurred, but it could also require compensating the plaintiff for future costs or replacing possessions.
While cases such as car accidents and defective medical devices are frequent in personal injury litigation because they cause direct physical harm, they are not the only potential suits. Someone could also sue for nursing home abuse based not only on the medical harm that was done but also for less tangible elements such as emotional trauma.
2. Commercial/Business Litigation
Unlike other types of litigation, commercial litigation specifically focuses on legal discord between individuals and businesses (or between businesses themselves). These disputes can arise externally or from within the business itself, such as if a partner or shareholder brings a suit against the business with which they have an association.
The most common types of commercial and business litigation include when partners or other parties (such as business vendors) breach their contracts or fiduciary duties, infringe copyright or trademark or even run into issues with indemnity. Fraud is another frequent case variant among commercial litigation, and in many cases, defamation further breaks down into both slander and libel under the business litigation category.
3. Contract Litigation
Contracts are a regular part of everyday life; therefore, it is natural that disputes can arise from time to time in their use. From unenforceable stipulations to disagreements about whether one party has adhered to the contract that they signed, contract litigation is a flourishing field.
Among the many types of contract litigation are disputes surrounding NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), consumer contracts (such as warranties for products) and disagreements regarding leases for rentals, apartments and cars.
4. Family Law Litigation
Family law is another highly popular branch of litigation. This type of dispute process covers the trials that families go through, including divorce, custody arrangements and child support payments. These can all be contentious issues that parties may be unwilling or unable to resolve amicably outside of the courtroom.
In addition to these services, family law litigators will typically assist with adoptions, guardianship or conservatorship, paternity issues and prenuptial agreements. Some may also work with restraining orders as well, depending on the context.
5. Class Action Litigation
Suing another party can be a challenge, especially when your case is just one of many. The good news is that class action litigation allows many people who have all been similarly wronged by the same party to work together to file a joint lawsuit by aggregating their claims. A single member may represent the group, or multiple members may do so.
Most commonly, consumers use class action lawsuits to hold companies accountable for situations such as usurious contract details or products that have multiple instances of malfunctioning.
How Litigation Typically Proceeds
Litigation is a complex process made even more complicated in certain circumstances, as with parallel proceedings. Before a lawsuit is filed, the appropriate information must be gathered, and the party being sued must be notified of the intent to sue.
Once the lawsuit is underway, a significant portion of the process consists of discovery, in which both parties’ legal teams will collect as much evidence as possible. This could include actions such as securing physical evidence or having the other side answer interrogatories, or questions submitted by one legal team to the other.
At any point before the trial, either party can ask a judge for a summary judgment. This can resolve the case by allowing the judge to make a decision based solely on the currently demonstrable evidence.
An additional method of resolving litigation before trial is to reach a settlement. This is an appealing choice for many parties when possible, as it often dramatically reduces the cost of further legal proceedings and reduces the timeline for resolution of the case.
If a summary judgment or settlement is not reached, the litigation will proceed to trial, either decided by a judge or by a jury.
Things to Know When Considering Litigation
For those considering litigation, it is critical to be aware that the process is often a costly one. In addition, it can take significant time throughout multiple steps of the process, though discovery tends to make up the bulk of the time investment.
In terms of cost, the fees for a competent litigation attorney are just one factor to consider. Both parties will also need to pay a variety of other legal fees, such as motion filing fees, fees for taking time for witness or expert interviews and additional costs for physical copies of documents such as transcripts and depositions. These costs can quickly add up, making litigation not worth the effort, time and expense to some parties.
Similarly, it can be difficult to understand whether a case is even viable before filing. An experienced legal professional who specializes in litigation in the area of your injury can assist you in understanding whether your case is worth pursuing, both from a success and monetary perspective.
This equips you with the knowledge you will need to make an informed decision before you invest a significant amount of money and time on the process.
Trust the Legal Professionals to Help You Navigate Complex Litigation Issues
Whether you are considering litigation to recover damages from a party who has wronged you or are on the receiving end of a lawsuit or criminal charge for which you are facing court, be sure to speak with a legal professional.
The attorneys at KPPB LAW specialize in various types of litigation and would be happy to walk you through your potential options and determine how to proceed. Contact KPPB LAW to learn more or to schedule a consultation to share the details of your situation and get started with your legal team.