Litigation Question and Answers

 

Questions

What is litigation?

What’s the difference between federal court and state court?

Plaintiff and Defendant – who are they?

Do I need an attorney to represent me in a lawsuit?

Can any attorney represent me in litigation?

Is litigation expensive?

What is a contingency fee?

 

Answers

What is litigation?
Although most disputes between persons or businesses are settled informally, just about any type of legal dispute can end up in court.  The lawsuit is started by the filing of a Complaint, and service of the Complaint and Summons upon the Defendant.  For an outline of the litigation process, download our free report, Anatomy of a Lawsuit

What’s the difference between federal court and state court?
Most Idaho lawsuits are filed in State Court.  In order to be filed in Federal Court, special circumstances must exist giving the federal court jurisdiction over the case.  Examples of special circumstances include application of federal statutes, claims in admiralty (navigable waters), and certain disputes between citizens of different states.

Plaintiff and Defendant – who are they?
The Plaintiff is the person suing, and the Defendant is the person being sued.

Do I need an attorney to represent me in a lawsuit?
Certainly not in Small Claims court.  After all, you wouldn’t go to a doctor to put a band-aid on a scratch.  On the other hand, if you needed your appendix removed, that’s a different story.  If you have a significant legal problem requiring court action, you are best served hiring an attorney to represent you in court.

Can any attorney represent me in litigation?
It is an oddity of the American legal system that any licensed attorney can represent you in an extremely serious lawsuit, even if that attorney has not spent one previous day in court.  For this reason, you should make sure that the attorney you hire for a lawsuit has extensive trial experience.

Is litigation expensive?
Although personal injury cases are generally handled on a contingency fee basis (see next question), the attorney fees in most other types of civil litigation is based upon the number of hours an attorney spends working on the case.  That is why a conscientious attorney will always keep the client informed of the ongoing costs of suit, and will look for settlement opportunities that make financial sense.  In fact, a good attorney will advise of all settlement options before the lawsuit is filed.

What is a contingency fee?
Personal injury lawsuits are often handled on a contingent fee basis because the injured person has limited financial resources while recovering from an accident.  In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney is paid a percentage of the recovery (generally one third), and is not paid until and unless the injured persons obtains a monetary award through settlement or trial.

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