The Civil Court Process
All American civil court proceedings follow the same general process regulations. Some variations take place between federal court cases and state jurisdictions.
Each state has its own case precedents whereas federal court procedures are identical across the nation. Regardless of what court jurisdiction a lawsuit is filed in, the steps taken to finally resolve the matter remain similar.
Depositions are vital. Without them, there would be no human presence to tell the story and interpret the evidence.
But, depositions can’t take place without prior proceedings and consequences afterward. To understand and appreciate how witness depositions fit into the civil court system, it’s necessary to follow how the entire civil court process works.
Below, learn more about how the American civil court process unfolds in a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Once a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s extremely important to contact an attorney who specializes in asbestos litigation.
Every court jurisdiction has a statute of limitations that starts from the time a mesothelioma case is diagnosed, not when a court complaint is filed.
The first thing an experienced mesothelioma lawyer does is evaluate the information and determine how likely the case is to seek compensation and redress.
Mesothelioma attorneys research their client’s case history. That determines the extent of the disease, where they had asbestos exposure, when it occurred, and what products were involved.
Having a full understanding of each patient’s history allows lawyers to establish liability against a particular company to be named in a lawsuit.
Often, experienced law firms have historic data on negligent companies and which products were the contributing offenders. This information usually corroborates or backs up the client’s claim.
Filing a Complaint
Attorneys prepare a written complaint about their client to swear and file in a court having jurisdiction over their claim. The client is now referred to as the plaintiff and those being sued become the defendants.
This must be done within the statutory period or the claim can’t proceed. Some states have as little as one year to file. Others have up to six years.
Copies of the complaint are served on the defendants and they now must legally respond.
Discovery and Deposition
Evidence is further examined including medical reports and opinions, work and other employment records, and information specific to toxic products and risky processes.
Deposing witnesses — having them examined and cross-examined under oath — is the most important part of the discovery phase. Often, so much damaging information emerges from witness depositions that defendants are forced to settle before going to trial.
Rarely do mesothelioma lawsuits end up in a trial. Almost all claims that are filed go as far as the plaintiff and important witnesses being deposed. Defense lawyers want to test how credible the plaintiff is and how well they stand up in their depositions.
Over 95% of mesothelioma cases are settled out of court after skillful negotiations between attorneys for the plaintiff and defendants.
Trial, Verdict, and Appeal
Plaintiffs and other witnesses who testify at trials will have their evidence closely compared to their deposition statements. There are always recordings and transcripts made of depositions to ensure few surprises at trial.
During the mesothelioma trial, witnesses might add, subtract, or forget what they said while being deposed. Some trials are before juries while some have judges acting alone.
No matter how a case is tried, a verdict given in civil court is binding unless there are good grounds for appeal. Generally, the losing side can only appeal on a legal error rather than a finding of fact.