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What does it take to file a civil court case?

"You can't fight city hall." What that well-known phrase is supposed to convey is the futility of going up against an entrenched government bureaucracy. Even if you have a solid case, navigating the system can leave you feeling like you're fighting a war with paper clips and a rubber band. Settling or just dropping the issue starts to look attractive.

Many individuals with solid claims worth bringing to civil court in California might feel the same way about navigating the legal system. Before anyone gives up, however, they should bring their concerns to experienced counsel for assessment. Skilled attorneys are in the best position to explain your legal options and offer an opinion on your chances of success.

Starting the ball rolling

Before anything else, it's good to note that going to trial might not even happen. Most cases are resolved before reaching that stage. Many times a settlement can be negotiated before the legal papers are even filed. At the same time, a plaintiff deserves to have confidence that his or her attorney is preparing for court from the outset.

From the "how to" perspective, here are some of the usual steps taken to get a matter before the court.

Stating your case

Everything centers on document filings. The first one is your complaint. This paperwork describes the issue in dispute, who is involved, and the legal basis for the suit. The petition also lays out the facts supporting the claim from the plaintiff's perspective and the expected relief.

Once accepted by the court, the defendant is served or receives a summons setting a deadline for responding. Once service is confirmed, the defendant must respond by the deadline. Failing to do that could mean the plaintiff wins the case by default and the defendant remains bound by any decision the court makes.

The defendants answer could include an admission or denial of the plaintiff's allegations. It might provide legal arguments for why the defendant should not be held liable and ask to have the case dismissed. Then, the ball is in the plaintiff's court to respond.

It's not surprising that someone might be put off trying to fight for his or her rights to damages after being injured, but no one has to go it alone.

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