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How Long Will A Civil Lawsuit Take?


The term civil litigation encompasses a broad variety of lawsuits including everything from personal injury lawsuits including automobile accidents, slips and falls and medical malpractice to contract disputes and real estate matters. Regardless of the reason for filing a lawsuit, filing a civil lawsuit may be in your best interest to achieve a successful outcome in your dispute.

Why Should I File a Civil Lawsuit?

Most disputes settle outside court; however, there are times when filing a civil lawsuit is necessary in order to protect the legal rights and bests interests of our clients. If the negligent party or the party at fault is denying liability, refusing to negotiate a settlement, offering inadequate funds or terms to settle, is dragging his feet or simply not responding to the lawsuit, our attorneys may advise that it is in your best interest to file a civil lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires on your claim. Civil lawsuits may involve a greater amount of time; however, if the negligent party is failing to act in good faith, a lawsuit may be in your best interest.

Steps in a North Carolina Civil Lawsuit

A lawsuit begins when your attorney files a summons and complaint with the court. The court will assign the case a number and give you filed copies to serve on the defendants. Depending on the rules and the type of case, service may be made by registered mail or by personal service by a law enforcement officer or process server. Serving the summons and complaint can take several weeks if the defendant is avoiding service. In cases where personal service cannot be accomplished, the court may order that service may be accomplished by publishing notice of the lawsuit in a newspaper located in the area of the last known address of the defendant.

Once the defendant is served with the civil lawsuit, he or she has a specific period of time, typically 30 days, to respond to or answer the complaint. If the defendant fails to answer or otherwise respond, you may petition the court for a default judgment. In most cases, the defendant will retain an attorney to file an answer to your lawsuit setting forth his or her defenses to your allegations. Each party has the opportunity to perform discovery to gather more information such as depositions, requests to produce and interrogatories. Once discovery has ended, the case will be placed on the trial docket.

Unfortunately, depending on the court’s caseload and other factors, a case can remain on the docket for weeks to months. Once the case is set for trial, the parties will meet in court to present his or her evidence, argue the facts of the case and argue how the laws should apply to those facts. After all evidence and testimony have been offered, the case will go to the judge or jury for a final verdict.

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Civil Lawsuit?

Because codes, laws and court rules can be quite complex, it is important to have an experienced civil trial attorney on your side throughout the process. Your attorney has the resources and knowledge to know when a case should settle and when to take a case to trial. The attorney uses his or her resources to build a strong case that encourages the other side to settle but is always prepared to try the case in court if that is in the best interest of the client.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Trial Attorney

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm, LLP is a full-service North Carolina Criminal and Civil law firm that is committed to providing results-driven legal representation to businesses and individuals seeking an alternative to large-firm representation. We focus on getting you the results you want while offering you a cost-effective solution to your legal needs. We understand that we work for our clients; therefore; our attorneys communicate regularly with each client to ensure that the client knows what is going with the case.

When you have legal problems, you need an experienced legal professional in your corner. No matter what type of case you may be facing, you need an attorney working for you who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459  or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.