Here are the main stages of litigation. In addition to these stages, Motions can be filed at many points, and those are discussed on the “Motions” page. The following is intended as a short outline of the subject, and is not all-inclusive. There is much more that can happen at any stage, and many other legal issues that can arise; this all occurs on a case-by-case basis.
This starts litigation. The party filing it is called the Plaintiff.
The Complaint must state a cause of action.
This answers the Complaint. The party filing it is called the Defendant.
The Answer must admit or deny the allegations of the Complaint.
The Answer can raise defenses to the Complaint.
Motion to Dismiss
This can be filed instead of the Answer; or it can be included with the Answer.
Grounds for such a Motion to Dismiss include a number of factors, for example: improper venue, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; among others.
Counterclaim and Cross-Claim
The Defendant can raise its own grounds of complaint against the Plaintiff; this is called a Counterclaim. The Defendant can also raise grounds of complaint against a co-Defendant; this is called a Cross-Claim.
Both parties are permitted to ask for production of documents and other things related to the subject of the litigation. This is part of Discovery.
During discovery, Interrogatories can be served and must be answered; Requests for Admission can be served and must be answered; and Depositions can be requested.
This is where witnesses are presented, and evidence is introduced. The trial can be before a jury or before a judge. A judge will decide matters of law; a jury will decide matters of fact.
Post Trial Motions; Post Trial Appeals
Even after a trial, motions can be presented, including a motion for a new trial.
If either party is dissatisfied with the verdict, that party can appeal to a higher court.
For actual advice on a legal situation, you should consult with an attorney. The above is intended for educational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice or for practice of law. Further, the above is only an outline of some of the main events during litigation; many other events can occurs during litigation. Also, many legal topics which might occur have not been covered at all in the foregoing.