Civil Litigation | Joyce & Associates, LLC

Tort (personal injury) claims, Contract claims, Landlord-Tenant matters, Homeowner’s Associations, Condominium Associations, Real Property disputes & Corporate disputes

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For those with potential claims:   

    If you have had the misfortune to suffer a devastating car accident or other serious personal injury, have fallen victim to a doctor’s negligence, have suffered discrimination in the work place or incurred damages from a broken contract we are here to protect your rights.  Remember, the law limits the amount of time you have to collect on your claims so it is important that you contact us as soon as possible.  We are available to meet with you at your convenience and provide a free consultation to discuss the merits of your case and assist you in taking the next step should you desire to pursue your claim.  Finally, as civil litigation is a broad practice area, in the unlikely event your case falls in a “niche” practice area outside our expertise, we will do our best to find a local attorney who can assist you.

For those facing threat of suit or currently being sued:

    The prospect of facing a civil suit - for any type of claim - can be very stressful and prove to be an emotional drain on you and your family.  We strive to ease these burdens by formulating the best defense possible, maintaining close client contact to ensure you are always aware of exactly what is “going on” in your case, and fighting vigorously for your defense.

An Overview of a Civil Non-Domestic Case in Circuit Court

  1. While there may be some negotiation to settle a claim prior to filing, the case is commenced by filing a Complaint in the proper court.  Generally, the proper court is the Circuit Court for the county where either one of the defendants resides or where the events occurred that give rise to the claim.  Of course, there are additional less used grounds for deciding which court is proper.  It is also at this stage when a jury is generally requested if desired.
  2. After the Complaint is filed, the clerk of the court will prepare summons, which must be served on the defendant or, in the case of a corporate defendant, their resident agent.  There are numerous means of perfecting service on a defendant, but the most widely used are either by mailing the summons and complaint to the defendant via certified mail, return receipt requested (restricted delivery), or, by having someone other than the plaintiff hand the documents to the defendant in person.
  3. After service has been performed the court will issue a scheduling order (sometimes a conference will be held in court to determine a scheduling order) that will provide deadlines for completing the discovery process, identifying expert witnesses, amending the pleadings, filing dispositive motions, completing any alternative dispute resolution, etc.
  4. During the discovery period, commonly all parties will serve each other with interrogatories (written questions), requests for documents, and sometimes requests that certain facts be admitted.  This can be a daunting process - especially because anything contained in the discovery responses can be used at trial.  As a result, competent counsel is imperative to assist you in preparing your discovery responses and asserting all objections and privileges that may apply.  Depositions may also be held.  A deposition is where the attorneys bring a party or any other witness before a court reporter and testimony is taken under oath - again, this can be used at trial.  Subpoenas issued by the clerk of the court can also be used to mandate a witness to provide documents or deposition testimony.
  5. Following the discovery above (and sometimes while discovery is still ongoing), the parties will be sent to some form of alternative dispute resolution, usually in the form of mediation.  Mediation is a confidential process where a trained mediator attempts to facilitate the parties reaching a settlement that is mutually agreeable.
  6. If mediation fails, the parties may file dispositive motions (e.g., a motion for summary judgment) where the party requests the court to summarily dispose of a claim.  These motions tend to be lengthy, contain a great deal of legal argument, and require competent counsel to either file or defend.
  7. Assuming the dispositive motions are either denied or not filed, the court will hold a pretrial hearing (sometimes called a settlement conference), where a judge will again inquire as to the possibility for settlement and, if there is none, finalize any remaining issues for trial.
  8. Prior to trial, a great deal of preparation is required (potentially including motions to limit or clarify what evidence may be presented - this is especially important in a jury trial).  Following trial, during which many procedures and motions must be made to preserve certain post-trial rights, the jury (or, in a bench trial, the judge) will render a verdict either finding for the defendant or, if finding for the plaintiff, setting out damages award.
  9. Apart from issues of appeal, reconsideration, and/or clarification, if a monetary judgment is entered, there are numerous collection vehicles provided under the Maryland Rules.

    As is likely clear, a civil trial is a complicated and drawn out process.  Civil cases can take years to work their way through the court system, and there are a number of substantive and procedural pitfalls that can ruin even the clearest of claims and/or defenses.  One important point that cannot be overstated: the law limits the amount of time you have to file a claim, and even assert a defense - in some cases, the amount of time may be as little as a matter of months.  If you have a claim or have been sued, do not wait to obtain counsel.


    As with any other type of legal matter, fees in a civil litigation matter are completely dependent on the nature of the claim or defense.  When pressing a tort claim (e.g. a motor vehicle accident), a contingency fee is often appropriate.  When defending such a claim, or involving a claim on a contract dispute, a more traditional hourly fee is often appropriate.  In many instances, a flat fee may be appropriate.  As with all of our practice areas, we attempt to work with our clients so that fees and court costs do not cause an additional burden.

The information and materials provided on this site are for informational purposes only and should not be used for legal advice on any matter. Joyce & Associates, LLC does not create any attorney-client relationship with the offering of this information. Readers of this site should not act upon any information provided them without seeking professional counsel. Any organizations with links or web sites leading to, or away from, this web site should not be considered as partners of Joyce & Associates, LLC and the opinions of these sites do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Joyce & Associates, LLC. You should not disclose any confidential information to us through this web site until you speak with an attorney at Joyce & Associates, LLC and receive authorization to do so. Any information you disclose to Joyce & Associates, LLC on this web site will not be provided, sold, or disclosed to any outside parties except when necessary to comply with the law or protect our property rights. In addition to the viewing of this web site, before deciding on hiring a lawyer, we encourage you to contact Joyce & Associates, LLC to receive free information on our services, qualifications, and experience. For more information concerning our web site, please contact us.

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