Civil cases resolve private conflicts between people, businesses, and/or the government. When parties have a dispute that cannot be resolved, they often resort to filing a lawsuit to bring the disputed matter before an impartial third party. This process allows the parties to present their case to a judge or mediator who determines the facts of the case, determines the governing law, applies the law to the facts, and provides a judgment.
Statute of limitations
Most cases have to be filed within the time limits set by law. These limits are known as statutes of limitations. The time limitations vary depending on the type of legal claim filed. If a person does not file a case within the time period set by law, he or she loses the right to file the legal claim. Understanding California’s statutes of limitations is critical. You should always consult an attorney regarding these matters to make sure you file your claim within the time allowed under California law. Here are some general tips:
- If you are suing because you got hurt, you can file a claim for up to 2 years after you were hurt.
- If you are suing because a spoken agreement was broken, you have 2 years to file after the agreement was broken.
- If you are suing because a written agreement was broken, you have 4 years to file after the agreement was broken.
- If you are suing because your property was damaged, you have 3 years to file after your property was damaged.
The Civil Process
- Complaint filed. Summons issued by court.
- Summons and Complaint served on defendant
- Defendant files Answer to Complaint and/or Cross-complaint
- Discovery Phase
- Trial and Judgment
If the defendant fails to answer the complaint, the plaintiff can take the default of the defendant and proceed to obtain a Judgment. In this case, the discovery process is bypassed completely and a Judgment can be obtained fairly quickly.