Steps in a BC Lawsuit

What are the steps in a Lawsuit?

The timing of a lawsuit is difficult to predict. It depends on many things, including actions a Plaintiff or Defendant takes, court schedules, and decisions you make. A lawsuit can take up to two years or longer to settle or go to trial.

However, most lawsuits go through the same basic steps whether it is a personal injury claim or a construction dispute, although not always in the same order. Some lawsuits skip some steps, and some steps are repeated many times over.

The steps listed here are the main steps that occur in a lawsuit. They will give you a general idea of what to expect.

1. Gathering the Facts

With our client’s help, we gather all the available facts concerning the claim, including obtaining documentation, interviewing and taking statements from witnesses. We sometimes hire investigators or experts to help us, so this step can involve expenses.

2. Starting the Lawsuit

We begin the lawsuit by preparing the necessary court documents and filing them in court. This means the court date-stamps all copies of the documents, keeping one copy for their official record. We then deliver filed copies to the Defendant’s lawyers. This step also involves expenses such as court filing fees.  The same occurs if we represent you as a defendant, but are responding to a lawsuit that has been served on you.

3. Interim Applications

After we start or defendant a lawsuit, but before trial, parties sometimes need to ask the court to decide certain things. Going to court to ask for an order is called an interim application. These interim applications are usually about how the lawsuit should be handled. For example, we might ask the court to order that the Defendant show us a particular letter or document that the Defendant would rather not let us see.

4. Examination for Discovery

After gathering the facts, parties arrange an examination for discovery. At the examination for discovery, we question the the opposing party under oath about the lawsuit. We also ask the opposing party to show us relevant documents in their possession, and to tell us about all relevant documents he or she has ever owned or had access to. In return, the opposing sides lawyer also questions our client about the lawsuit.

5. Review of the Law

Once we have a good idea of all the facts, we review the law. We then give our client our legal opinion about what the likely outcome of a trial would be, and what dispute resolution measures can be used to avoid a trial.

6. Negotiation and Settlement

When it is appropriate, we talk with the other side to see if they will settle the claim. A settlement is an agreement between the parties to a lawsuit which sets out how they will resolve the claim. If the claim is settled, it does not go to trial.  Sometimes, however, a matter cannot be settled and we must proceed to Trial.

7. Preparation for Trial

We prepare the case for trial, including getting all the necessary documents together, arranging for witnesses to attend, and preparing any legal opinions.

8. Trial

We act for our client at the trial. When the judge has decided the case, which could be a few days or weeks (sometimes months) after the trial, we prepare the court order for the judge to sign, or approve how the other lawyers write up the judgment to make sure it is correct.

9. Completing the Claim

We do all the work necessary to complete the claim. This includes giving our client money from a settlement or judgment, after we have deducted our fees and expenses. However, it does not include starting new steps such as enforcing or appealing a court judgment. For example, to enforce a judgment means to start proceedings to force a party to actually pay what he or she has been ordered to pay. To appeal a judgment means to start work to get a higher court to change the original court’s judgment.