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What is the general civil litigation process?

When facing a lawsuit, whether you are the one bringing the lawsuit or the one being sued, it can be a stressful and confusing time. After all, most people in North Carolina have limited experience with the legal system, which makes it important that they seek legal help when necessary. One way to ease the stress that can come with general civil litigation is understanding how the trial process works.

First, the plaintiff serves a complaint and summons with the court against the defendant. The defendant then has a certain amount of time to respond to the complaint with an answer, including a counterclaim or a claim against a third party. If the defendant fails to answer the complaint, a default judgment will be issued in favor of the plaintiff.

Following this is the discovery process, where each side can exchange relevant documents and perform depositions to be used at trial. After that, the parties can try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement, perhaps through mediation or arbitration.

If negotiations fail, the trial process begins. At a trial, each side has the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments on their behalf to an impartial judge or jury. This could include presenting evidence and performing examinations and cross-examinations. Once each side has had its say, the judge or jury will determine how to rule on the issues of the case. Once a decision is made, the judge will enter the final judgment.

This is only a very brief overview of the trial process. North Carolina law may also have specific requirements when it comes to civil litigation. Therefore, those who are suing or being sued will want to seek professional guidance to understand what is expected of them and how their case will proceed.

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