If you are involved in a lawsuit, regardless of whether or not you have legal representation, it may help to learn as much as possible about the litigation process. FindLaw's Litigation Resources section includes worksheets, sample documents, and related resources to help you get up to speed. In this section, you will find a mediation worksheet, sample subpoenas, a quiz to help you prepare for a deposition, worksheets for both plaintiffs and defendants to help figure out a fair settlement amount, and other valuable resources to help you prepare for your lawsuit.
What Is a Subpoena?
A subpoena is a formal legal document that requests the production of certain documents or requests a person to appear in court or at a deposition. It's important to comply with the action that the subpoena requests because failure to do so can result in civil or criminal penalties. Subpoenas can be used in any type of case, but they are a tool often used in divorce, child custody, and personal injury cases. If used as a means to request information, a subpoena can ask for a variety of things including DNA samples, computer files, insurance records, medical bills, employee records, and tax returns.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a tool used during the discovery process, which is the time before the trial in which each side finds out as many facts of the case as possible. Depositions are sworn statements that are made in response to an attorney's questions, which are then recorded by a court reporter. The length of a deposition can vary – some can take an hour, while others can take a week or more. Depositions can be used for a variety of reasons, from testing out how a witness will conduct him or herself in a trial to locking a witness into his or her story to seeing what information the other side has.
If you are involved in case and you are deposed, your attorney will help prepare you for the experience. However, there are a couple things to remember. First, never lie and never guess. The reason behind a deposition is to give facts, so if you don't know the answer to a question, you should say you don't know. Second, you should only answer the specific questions that you are asked. Although you may want to explain your answer, the more information you give the more you're helping the other side, so keep your answers short and simple.
What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to a wide variety of processes that resolve legal issues without full-blown civil litigation. The most commonly known forms of ADR are arbitration and mediation. ADR basically allows each side to sit down together (with their attorneys, if they have them) with a neutral third party to try to resolve their issues by negotiating a settlement. ADR is often a good alternative to a civil court trial as it often resolves the issue more quickly and in a less costly manner.
Hiring an Attorney
While the worksheets in this section can be beneficial to helping you understand the litigation process, it can still be very complex. For this reason, it's usually a good idea to consult with a local litigation attorney if you're involved in a lawsuit, whether it's as a plaintiff or a defendant.