It is difficult to define litigation as litigation is varied based on the civil wrong and needs of the plaintiff. There will some commonalties among all litigation cases, usually the presence of an injury or damage, the defendant not having concurrent criminal liability and a plaintiff seeking compensatory damages. Attorneys that deal with litigation will be varied in their area of expertise as civil law Is very broad and deals with issues from medical malpractice to breaches of contract.
Despite the common perception and definition of litigation, almost all lawsuits do not go to trial and are settled out of court. The handful of lawsuits that do go to trial occur when both parties are unable to reach common ground in settlement. This is the reason why the dollar amounts quoted in litigation are initially so high. The high number quoted before a legal action will almost certainly be whittled down and on top of that, the lawyer will need to collect his or her legal fee.
In the litigation definition, divorce litigation is one of the more contentious and unique areas of litigation. Unlike other cases, the parties in this definition of litigation are fighting over the division of assets or payments to be made post divorce.
In the litigation definition, it is clear that the plaintiff will have the burden of proof against the defendant. In this case, the plaintiff would have had to already suffer the injury in order to file suit. This prevents speculative lawsuits for damages that do not yet exist. The most common application of this rule is mesothelioma cases. Those that wish to file mesothelioma litigation must demonstrate actually having the ailment and linking it to the exposure. Proof of exposure alone will not be enough to proceed with mesothelioma litigation. The only exception would be intentional exposure to asbestos, which would almost certainly be a criminal rather than civil matter. The victim would be compensated with fines awarded by the criminal court.
Damages awarded from litigation are almost always compensatory and will involve a combination of economic, non-economic and punitive damages awarded by the jury and modified by the judge if necessary. Economic damages are direct compensation for damages sustained due to the actions of the defendant and will include lost wages and medical bills. Non-economic damages are damages awarded for factors such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are imposed by the judge for exceptional cases of gross negligence and wanton, almost criminal disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the plaintiff.
Attorneys will almost always work on contingency for litigation. This is because a contingency arrangement allows them to collect a certain percentage of the jury award as payments for services. Depending on the state, the fee may be limited by law or subject to review by the court. Due to this arrangement this make litigation in expensive and available to even the most disadvantaged of individuals. There will still be court fees and other associated costs that will affect the affordability of litigation.