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Legal Resources

Civil Law Related Links

For additional information regarding your legal rights and options, our office recommends the following informative websites:

The following pamphlets and articles related to civil law have proven helpful to our clients:

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Frequently Asked Questions in Civil Law

What is the benefit of retaining a civil lawyer?

A civil lawyer can be your legal advocate as a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit, especially one involving a business dispute. Our office’s civil lawyers will have the legal and business intuition and experience to help you to pursue legal remedies when it is necessary, or defend you when you are the subject of a lawsuit. We counsel each of our clients to make legal decisions that are also reasoned business decisions.

How much will it cost to take me from the inception of a civil lawsuit or criminal lawsuit through trial?

Each case is unique and, unfortunately, many times civil litigation is directly determined by the aggressiveness of the opposing party such that estimating costs is extremely difficult. Be assured that when you come into our office, we will explain all fee options and costs to you on your first visit and will tailor our services to suit your specific litigation needs.

How long will my civil lawsuit take to get to a trial?

Typically, from the time a complaint in a California State Court civil lawsuit is filed it takes approximately 12 – 18 months to get to the trial date. Some counties, such as Riverside, may take even longer to bring a civil case to trial. This time can be longer when trial continuances are sought by the parties, but must be based on legal grounds to do so.

What are my options to filing a civil lawsuit?

Our office encourages the use of mediation and alternative dispute resolution options when such a course of action is beneficial to our clients’ needs. Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, we will discuss all of your civil law options with you from the first time you seek our counsel.

If I prevail on my civil lawsuit, can I be reimbursed for legal fees I have incurred?

In California, the rule is generally that each party litigant is responsible for the payment of his/her/its own legal fees in a civil lawsuit. The only time a non-prevailing party can be responsible for payment of the prevailing party’s legal fees is where there is an “attorney fee provision” included in a written contract agreed to by the parties, such as a home loan, car loan, promissory note, etc. or in very limited circumstances where a California statute authorizes the recovery of legal fees.

Is small claims court an option for me?

Small claims court generally deals with claims for $5,000 or less. A “natural person” (not a business or public entity) may generally claim up to $10,000, including a sole proprietor. Some very specific exceptions to these limits exist for claims against a defendant who is a guarantor and for actions brought by a natural person for damages for bodily injuries resulting from an automobile accident if a defendant is covered by an automobile insurance policy that includes a duty to defend. Litigants cannot obtain the services of a civil lawyer in small claims court unless the party is a corporation; and individual parties are expected to prosecute/defend their own civil lawsuit.

Can someone sue me in a civil lawsuit or a criminal lawsuit and take my house or other assets before he/she wins at trial?

Generally, a party must obtain a judgment against you, which is not granted until a person prevails at trial before they can take any real property or assets from you in a civil lawsuit. In a criminal lawsuit, a monetary judgment and/or restitution order generally must be in place before the state can take away real property or assets from you. In very special cases, a person may be able to obtain a pre-judgment writ of attachment in order to freeze bank account funds and/or put a lien against real property, but these types of measures are not common and are only available under very specific factual circumstances.

Can I use a civil lawsuit to enforce an agreement that is not in writing?

In California, oral agreements are enforceable with the exception of premarital agreements, certain marriage settlement agreements, and agreements which are barred by the Statute of Frauds unless they are accompanied by a signed writing. Agreements which are barred by the Statute of Frauds include: 1) an agreement which by its terms cannot be performed within one year, 2) an agreement to answer for the debt of another, 2) an agreement for the lease of real property for a period longer than one year, 3) agreements dealing with the lease and/or sale of real property, 4) agreements by a purchaser of real property to pay an indebtedness secured by a mortgage or deed of trust, and/or 5) contracts or agreements to loan money or extend/grant credit in an amount over $100,000 made by a person engaged in the business of lending or arranging for the lending of money or extending credit.

Once I am sued in a civil lawsuit by my business partner, am I allowed to speak to him/her, or must I only speak through my attorney?

The law prohibits individual party litigants from being contacted by legal counsel when they are represented by an attorney once a civil lawsuit has been initiated. The law does not prohibit the individual party litigants from contacting each other whether or not the parties themselves are represented by counsel. However, many times it may not be in your best interest to contact party litigants once a civil lawsuit is pending. Always consult with your legal counsel prior to seeking contact with other party litigants once your civil lawsuit has been filed.

Why do we have to go through the costly expense of depositions in a civil lawsuit?

Although the effort of conducting depositions, and other litigation tools at the “discovery phase” of a lawsuit, can be time consuming and expensive, the price of being “surprised” at trial may far exceed all of your litigation costs expended to get you to the point of trial. It is almost always necessary to depose key witnesses in order to flesh out the specific helpful or adverse evidence in your case prior to a judge or jury hearing this evidence for the first time at trial. This will ensure that your civil lawyer is prepared for all testimony anticipated at trial, and in many cases, it persuades the other side’s attorney to consider settling, as their client’s case, or defenses, are undermined at the deposition.




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