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Milwaukee, Wisconsin Civil Litigation FAQs

Civil Trial Lawyers Answer Common Questions in Waukesha County, Wisconsin

What issues can be resolved through civil litigation?

Civil litigation is used to resolve legal disputes between individuals or businesses when there are no criminal charges involved, but one party is seeking compensation or some other equitable remedy from the other party. Common types of cases that can be resolved through a civil trial include contract disputes, lease disputes, divorce and family legal matters, personal injury and wrongful death, product and premises liability, insurance coverage disputes, and probate disagreements.

How long do I have to file a civil claim?

In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations, or the time you have after the inciting incident to file a claim, varies depending on the type of civil case you are seeking to file.

What is the civil litigation process?

The civil litigation process begins when the plaintiff, often with the assistance of an attorney, files a pleading in a court with jurisdiction over the case, explaining the reason they are seeking compensation or other relief from the defendant. The defendant then files their own answer in response, and both parties enter the discovery period, during which they will gather evidence and information about the opponent's claim. After discovery, the case will be resolved either through dispositive motions before the court, mediation, or a trial. In the case of a trial, depending on the type of claim, either side can demand the right to a jury.

What is the discovery period?

Discovery is often the longest period in a civil case, so as to allow both the plaintiff and defendant ample time to gather information to build their cases and decide what legal motions may be necessary to file prior to the trial. This includes the collection of evidence, via subpoena when necessary, questions and answers between the opposing sides, and the deposition of witnesses to obtain their testimony.

How much evidence do I need to provide?

Unlike in criminal trials, plaintiffs in civil trials do not need to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the standard of proof is usually a preponderance of evidence, meaning that the evidence you provide is more convincing to the jury than that of your opponent. Nevertheless, you should still gather as much evidence as you can, which may include photographs, financial statements, contract documents, phone records, and more depending on the nature of your case.

How should I prepare as the plaintiff?

If you wish to seek compensation from another party, you should consult an attorney who can advise you on the validity of your case and help you file a complaint that makes a strong case for holding the defendant responsible. You should also begin gathering and preserving evidence as soon as possible that will bolster your position at trial.

What do I need to know as the defendant?

When someone files a civil complaint against you, you have a limited time after being served with the complaint to file an answer. Consulting an attorney as soon as possible gives you the best chance to present an adequate legal defense to the complaint. You may also choose to file a counter-claim if you believe the plaintiff owes you compensation. You should also start gathering evidence of your own to provide to your lawyer to assist in your defense.

Does my civil case have to go to trial?

Not all civil cases must be resolved through a trial. If you and the defendant are willing to compromise, or if you have a skilled attorney who can negotiate for you, you may be able to reach a settlement agreement through mediation if the facts warrant it. Trials are typically a last resort reserved for cases in which mediation is unsuccessful and settlement is not possible.

How long does a civil trial take?

Resolving a civil case through mediation can save a significant amount of time and stress. If your case does go to trial, you may be looking at a prolonged process of several years when considering the discovery period, the trial itself, and any appeals.

Can I appeal the verdict in a civil case?

Either the plaintiff or the defendant can choose to appeal the verdict, and an attorney can give informed advice as to whether an appeal is likely to succeed. If you do choose to proceed with an appeal, an appellate court can review the record to determine whether any errors were committed.

Contact a Milwaukee County Civil Litigation Attorney

Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant in a civil case, our team of civil litigation lawyers at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, can answer any additional questions you have and represent you to help you achieve your desired outcome. If you live in Milwaukee, Waukesha, or the surrounding counties, contact us at 414-271-1440.

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