Not all lawsuits are equal. Lawsuits vary in type, action, resolution and legal approach. The term “lawsuit” refers to a civil action brought in a court of law where a plaintiff, (which is a party who claims to have incurred a loss as a result of a defendant’s actions), demands a legal or equitable remedy. Essentially, in a lawsuit, two parties who are opposed to one another take their issue to a court of law for resolution. Once a lawsuit has been initiated, the legal proceeding is then in the litigation phase.
Prior to filing a lawsuit, it is wise to meet with a lawyer who has trial experience. Very few lawyers have been to trial and even fewer are Board Certified in civil trials. Carey Leisure & Neal has three Board Certified trial attorneys. Less than 2% of Florida Lawyers are Board Certified in Civil Trial.
When does a case become a lawsuit?
Not all cases need to start as a lawsuit because a reasonable settlement may be attainable. A personal injury case usually starts off as a claim against the at fault party’s insurance company. If the case does not settle in the claim phase, it will convert to a lawsuit with the client’s permission. At Carey Leisure and Neal, about 40-50% of our cases actually become lawsuits.
Do all lawsuits actually go to trial?
No. Since Carey Leisure & Neal has a reputation in the legal community for taking cases to trial, the majority of our lawsuits settle. Trials result in increased expenses. If the parties can reach a settlement in the lawsuit or litigation phase, but prior to trial, expenses are often minimized.
Typically, lawsuits fall into four distinctive categories:
- Negligence (aka Tort) – A negligence or tort action is a type of lawsuit resulting from a person or corporation’s failure to use reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person. For example, if a pedestrian is hit by a car while legally crossing the street in a crosswalk, a lawsuit or tort action may be filed to recover the damages sustained.
- Contract – Breach of contract is a legal cause of action where a binding agreement is not honored by one or more of the parties, resulting in non-performance of a contract or interference with a party to the contract’s performance. For example, if you sign a contract and do not receive what you bargained or paid for, this may qualify you to file a civil action for breach of contract.
- Family Law – These types of cases involve family-related issues such as divorce, child custody, and child support orders or modifications. Carey Leisure & Neal has an experienced family law attorney who handles child support and family law matters, often without having to file a lawsuit.
- Private Nuisances – A nuisance is a person, thing or circumstance that causes inconvenience or annoyance. For example, a neighbor that has a pet that makes loud noises in the middle of the night, or someone in your apartment building who has frequent loud parties late into the night, may be causing a private nuisance to the other residents.
What kinds of damages are commonly awarded?
The most common types of damages that can be awarded from lawsuits include the following:
- Pain and suffering: These damages are awarded as compensation for the physical pain that a person has experienced.
- Emotional distress: At times, a defendant’s actions cause mental distress or anxiety, which may result in monetary compensation.
- Wrongful death: These damages are awarded in cases where a family member or heir suffers damages due to a person or corporation’s negligent or intentional actions, resulting in the wrongful death of a victim.
- Loss of companionship/consortium: These damages compensate family members of a victim who has been injured or killed as the result of another person or corporation’s negligence.
- Actual damages: These damages are also referred to as compensatory damages. The amount awarded in tort cases is based on the proven harm, loss, or injury suffered by a plaintiff or person who has been wronged.
- Lost wages: These damages refer to wages that cannot be earned because of a harm or injury. The court may require the defendant to pay lost wages that occurred as a result of a person or corporation’s negligence.
- Punitive damages: These are also referred to as exemplary damages. They are intended to deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit. Tort cases may result in punitive damages if gross negligence is found.
- Breach of contract damages – Consequential damages are those caused indirectly by the broken contract and they may be awarded in a lawsuit. Other damages include specific performance, rescission, and restitution.
- Injunction: This is a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another. An injunction may also compel a person to carry out a certain act. It is a non-monetary damage award.
As you can see, lawsuits are complex and are best handled by an experienced trial attorney. At Carey Leisure and Neal, our attorneys have a reputation amongst lawyers and judges for taking cases to trial and for obtaining just compensation for our clients. Contact us for a free no obligation consultation at 727-799-3900.