How Long Does A Business Lawsuit Typically Take To Get Resolved?
Typically, the process of a lawsuit is going to be quite long. If you’re going to go to trial, most of the time, you will not get to a trial for a minimum of one year or longer after a lawsuit was filed. Cases can go on as long as five years in California State Court and even longer in Federal Court excluding any Appeals. In California, we have a fast-track rule and usually get cases to trial pretty quickly, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee. California says your case needs to get to trial within five years. The average case is probably set for trial about 24 to 30 months after the case has been filed. Typically the Judge will wait until an Answer is filed by defendants before setting the case for trial though the Judge doesn’t always wait.
Do All Business Lawsuits Typically Go To Trial?
The reality is that 97% of all cases never get to trial. Many times, the costs of trial are far greater than the cost to settle the case. Other times, you think you’ve got everything going for you and then you realize your case is not as great as you thought it was. Sometimes, you get served with a lawsuit and you’re subject to arbitration. Many other reasons may exist for why the case never gets to trial.
Arbitration is not through the court system. It’s a similar system, meaning you may or may not have the same forms of discovery you can have in a lawsuit. An arbitrator is typically a former judge, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no requirement that an arbitrator have any legal training, but most Arbitrators are legally trained. Arbitrations have their own rules and the agreement requiring arbitration can have their own rules such as discovery is limited to one set of production of documents. In such cases, you can’t send interrogatories, requests for admissions or take depositions. The arbitrator is going to make a ruling and a final arbitration award. Once an arbitration award has been determined, the attorney has to take that award to court and get it confirmed by a judge, so it becomes a judicial judgment.
Mediation is slightly different. Mediation can be through a judicial process or without a judicial process. The typical mediator is a former judge, who will hear both sides of the story, usually separately. He or she is going to try to get each side to come up with an offer. The goal of mediation is to get a settlement. If you think you did nothing wrong and you offer zero, it’s very hard to have a successful mediation. On the other hand, sometimes, a mediator can get the plaintiff to realize that this is not the big, million-dollar case that they think it is.
Usually, mediations occur further along in the process, when you’re closer to trial. You’ve got a trial date coming up, so it has more value, in the sense of trying to work out a deal.
Judicial mediation is through the court and you typically don’t have to pay the mediator. In private mediation, you do have to pay the mediator. Normally, the costs are split down the middle, similar to an arbitration. Most cases settle before trial and cases can settle at any time. I’ve seen cases settle in the middle of a trial. There are a lot of reasons to try to get the matter resolved and over with, so settlement is the most likely end scenario, if you’ve been sued.
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