Central Florida Civil Law
The term civil litigation refers to a legal dispute between two or more parties that seek money damages or specific performance rather than criminal sanctions. Civil litigation encompasses a myriad of areas, including, but not limited to: Breach of Contract, Landlord/Tenant disputes, Foreclosure, Insurance claims, unfair trade practices, unjust enrichment and other consumer or business related issues.
Parties to a Lawsuit
In any lawsuit there are two main categories of parties. The “Plaintiff” is the person(s) or entity which files the lawsuit. The “Defendant” is the person(s) or entity against whom the lawsuit is filed.
Life Cycle of a Typical Litigation Case
Civil Litigation is divided into several phases with each intermingling until the conclusion of the case, otherwise known as the disposition. The various stages include investigation, filing a Complaint, filing a Motion to Dismiss or Answer and Affirmative Defense, or other various pleadings, discovery, pretrial proceedings, mediation, potential settlement, trial, appeal and collection.
The longest and most labor intensive of the stages is the discovery phase. It is during this phase that each party is able to request information from the opposition which it believes will help support their own arguments. This includes requests for documents, interrogatories (questions that must be answered under oath), Request for Admissions, depositions and subpoenas.
Most civil litigation cases are settled before trial. However, when a case does see through to trial, the entire process from filing the Complaint through resolution can take as little as a few months or several years.
Is an Attorney Required to Pursue/Defend a Civil Litigation?
Many disputes are settled before a lawsuit is filed. Depending upon the circumstances, you may be able to work out a settlement with your opponent without hiring an attorney. If you are unable to resolve it on your own you could hire an attorney to send a demand letter and attempt to resolve the dispute before litigation commences. Remember that a settlement is only as good as the document upon which it is written. Similarly, if your dispute is one that may be handled by your local Small Claims Court (Claims under $5,000.00), you may not need an attorney.
For larger claims or legal issues, however, you should retain an attorney to represent your interests. Often, an attorney can negotiate a settlement prior to incurring the cost of filing a lawsuit. However, if the matter is not able to be settled, you will want an attorney to represent you if a lawsuit is filed or if you want to file a lawsuit. The Rules of Civil Procedure, which govern court proceedings, are complex. Failure to follow proper procedure can result in your opponent prevailing in the lawsuit and possibly collecting their attorney’s fees from you. While it is not required to have an attorney, you will be at a distinct disadvantage without representation.
How is My Attorney Paid?
Prior to retaining an attorney ensure you understand what is included in representation and what is not. During the pendency of any lawsuit there is not only the time spent by the attorney in negotiating, scheduling, drafting pleadings and court appearances, but also other costs which arise. Specifically, you may be responsible for court reporter fees, transcripts and other various fees which accompany preparation for trial and/or depositions. It is of the upmost importance that you understand, prior to retaining an attorney, what your cost will be.
Attorneys can be compensated via a flat fee, hourly rate or on a contingency/partial contingency basis. A flat fee is a one-time fee for the lawsuit which may be remitted upfront or spread out through monthly payments. The hourly rate for an attorney will vary based upon experience and expertise of the attorney. If an attorney charges their hourly rate, they will discuss with you how you will be billed. Some attorneys provide a monthly bill, while others will set a threshold which will be billed prior to sending an invoice. Discuss with your attorney how they bill prior to signing an agreement for representation. Depending upon your case, an attorney may also take your case on contingency/partial contingency. This means that they will take your case for little to no upfront cost and anticipate being paid by your opponent at the conclusion of your lawsuit. Most lawyers do not take cases on a contingency unless an insurance company is involved.
What is Your Lawsuit Worth?
Unfortunately, no lawsuit is created equal. No attorney can tell you from the inception what your case is worth as it is simply unknown until all of the facts have been discovered, relevant case law researched and Florida law applied to your specific facts. The strength in any lawsuit lies in which party’s facts coincide with what the current case law demonstrates to be “persuasive.”
Most people who file lawsuits do not get the exact amount sought. No amount of money can make it “right” and it is important to have realistic expectations.
What to Expect from the Initial Consultation
At your initial consultation with the Law Office of Mandy Pavlakos, you’ll meet with Attorney Mandy Pavlakos. We ask that potential clients bring anything they feel is relevant to their case to help the attorney fully understand their case. Attorney Pavlakos will review the information with you to ensure she fully understands your situation. She will then discuss with you the options available to you and any relevant Florida Statute or case law which could apply to your case to ascertain what is the best method to resolve your situation.
Call: (407) 688-1301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your appointment.
We offer in-office consultations and phone consultations.