How does civil litigation work?

Going to court to resolve a problem is not something many Massachusetts residents feel comfortable doing. Sometimes, taking legal action is the only way to resolve a dispute. The good news is, while civil litigation can be intimidating or seem over the top, filing a claim in no way means one will end up battling things out in court.

All civil cases start with the plaintiff filing a complaint with the court. From there, the complaint is served to the defendant. The defendant must then be given time to answer.

After the initial filing process, there is a discovery period. This is where both sides share information. There are several stages to the discovery phase. How it all works out in the end will depend on the issue being addressed in one’s case.

When all parties have the needed information, a civil case can go one of two ways: settlement or litigation. The goal, in most cases, it to reach an agreement through negotiations. This is often the best route for all involved parties, as it generally takes less time and money than it would if the matter is taken to trial. However, there are times when settlement negotiations go round and round and accomplish very little. Litigation may be the only option at that point.

If a case goes to trial, both parties will present their side of the matter to the court. When case presentation is complete, a judge or jury will then get to decide how the issue should be resolved. There is no set timeline for how long litigation should take. Every case is different.

When Massachusetts residents are dealing with legal problems that they cannot resolve on their own, it is okay for them to seek assistance, but not from just anyone. Who they have on their side matters. An experienced civil litigation attorney will work diligently to reach a resolution that best benefits the client — regardless if getting to that point is achieved through negotiations or litigation.


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