1. How long does it take for a civil case to get to trial?
- Civil litigation including business disputes can take a year and a half to three years to get to a jury, depending on whether the case is in state or federal court. The discovery process takes up the bulk of that period, with dispositive motions like summary judgment also taking much time. The number of parties and lawyers, number and location of witnesses, voluminous documentation, complex factual and legal issues, level of acrimony between the parties, the court's docket, alternative dispute resolution including court-ordered mediation sessions, and of course the number of claims, counterclaims and cross-claims, all factor into timing. Non-jury trials usually involve the need for less preparation, take fewer days to try, and are easier for courts to calendar, and therefore move faster.
2. How much does business litigation cost?
- Expect realistically to incur at least $60-100K in attorneys' fees and litigation expenses for a full-blown state court case, and twice that in federal court. Costs alone can be $20-50k. Whether flat fee or hourly, your attorneys' fees primarily are time-based, and litigation takes much preparation and time. Bigger firms cost more mainly because they have higher overhead and often staff a case with more associates, paralegals and other assistants. Quantity doesn't necessarily translate into quality, but it does mean higher fees (sometimes by a factor of 3 to 5 or so).
3. What costs go with litigation?
- Costs may include items like depositions, transcripts, expert witnesses (at professional hourly rates), investigators, process servers, videos, testing, subpoenas, bulk copyingreproduction, exhibits, electronic research and filing, travel and accommodations, photography and photographs or mapping, bulk postage, filing fees, delivery services, and anything else necessary to maximize the chances of a winning case. Win, lose or draw, the client is always responsible for paying or reimbursing costs.
4. What is "discovery?"
- Discovery is a term of art meaning the process of disclosure of information to the other side, as required by rule or court order. For the most part it is unique to the American system of justice. Document requests and production, interrogatories (written questions requiring sworn written responses), requests for admission, requests for inspection, and depositions including video-taped depositions, are some of the main discovery devices. Discovery is intended to avoid unfair surprise to either side in a lawsuit, and to help focus issues for hearings or trial.
5. Can the other side be required to pay my legal fees and costs?
- Unless a statute, court order, rule or agreement specifies otherwise, the so-called American rule is that each party pays its own way.
6. What are the chances of a quick settlement?
- Most civil and business litigation cases settle before trial. Settlement usually occurs after discovery is more or less complete, which typically takes at least approximately nine months or so once a lawsuit is underway. Cases that can settle quickly usually do not get filed in the first place. Alternative dispute resolution like mediation often can help the settlement process.
7. I or my company have been served with a summons and complaint. What happens if we just ignore it?
- Like most problems, ignoring them makes things worse. A default may be entered, entitling the other side to the relief requested in the complaint - usually a money damages award - with minimal or no chance to argue otherwise. Especially if the stakes are high and you do not wish to risk a judgment against you, consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to avoid various deadlines and other bad consequences.
8. What if I am being investigated by the SEC? Can Sanderson Law, P.C., help me?
- Yes. Call us at 303-444-8846 and review the following article: http://www.sandersonlawtalk.blogspot.com/2014/01/responding-to-sec-investigation.html
9. Why Sanderson Law?
- We offer big firm experience and credentials at small firm fees and sensibilities. References provided upon request.