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What Are Different Types of Litigation?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Litigation

  • Civil litigation
  • Commercial litigation
  • Employment litigation
  • Intellectual property litigation
  • Personal injury litigation
  • Environmental litigation
  • Criminal litigation

As a small business owner or solo entrepreneur, you may face many legal challenges – from straightforward questions about properly onboarding employees to complex queries about tax laws. Owning your own company may even mean facing litigation. So, what does it mean to sue or be sued, and how many types of litigation are there?

In this post, the Batson Nolan team will address some of the different types of litigation available for you to make a claim or for a claim to be made against you. We will help you understand what it means when someone mentions the term “civil litigation” or “intellectual property dispute” and explain what to expect should you find yourself in such a dispute. If you or your business are already in the midst of litigation and need an attorney to help guide you, Batson Nolan may be able to assist. We have helped Tennessee businesses through complex litigation for over 150 years.

What Is Litigation?

Litigation is the process of resolving legal disputes through the court system. This process uses formal legal documents known as “pleadings,” which are submitted to a court of law and lay out each party’s case. Litigation typically takes place when parties cannot reach agreement about an issue through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods. In litigation, the parties present their case before a judge or jury. A neutral fact-finder ultimately decides the outcome of the dispute in a binding decision.

Litigation can be a time-consuming, complex, and expensive process. In theory, the system allows parties to represent themselves. However, to be successful and maximize one’s reward, litigation often requires the assistance of experienced attorneys specializing in the relevant area of law or type of litigation.

Usually, litigation is seen as a resolution method of last resort. Typically, parties attempt to resolve their disputes through all other methods before resorting to the courts. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration can often be pursued before or during litigation to reach a settlement and avoid a full trial.

Different Types of Litigation

There are various types of litigation, each corresponding to different areas of law and types of legal disputes. It is important to note that a specific claim might be classified as multiple types of litigation. For instance, a lawsuit over an employee who went to work for a competitor might be classified as civil, commercial, and employment litigation due to the nature of the claims. Additionally, if the employee stole data or customer lists upon departure, it may be classified as intellectual property litigation. Read on to learn more about some basic types of litigation and how to distinguish the types of litigation cases you might encounter as a business owner.

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation involves legal disputes between individuals, organizations, or entities seeking monetary damages or specific performance of some kind of action or service. This type of litigation does not usually apply to criminal matters but can sometimes be used to supplement punishment for criminal actions. It encompasses a wide range of matters, including personal injury claims, contract disputes, some types of employment disputes, property disputes, and product liability cases.

Civil litigation is one of the most common types of litigation. In fact, when a business owner refers to suing someone or being sued, they often mean civil litigation. Whether the claim stems from a slip-and-fall accident in a grocery store or a breach of contract matter for undelivered merchandise, these issues fall under the “civil litigation” umbrella.

Commercial Litigation

It may be a commercial litigation issue if it has to do with business or finances. Commercial litigation focuses on disputes arising in the business and commercial context. Types of commercial litigation can include such matters as breach of contract, partnership disputes, shareholder disputes, some types of intellectual property disputes, antitrust violations, and business torts. Commercial litigation often involves complex legal issues and can have significant financial implications for the parties involved.

Employment Litigation

Employment litigation deals with matters in the course of an employer-employee relationship. Such matters may include:

  • Wrongful termination,
  • Discrimination claims,
  • Harassment claims,
  • Workplace safety matters,
  • Wage and hour issues,
  • Breach of employment contracts, and
  • Violations of labor laws.

Employment litigation can involve individual employees or many employees, such as in class-action lawsuits. If you are facing employment issues, speak to an employment law attorney, as this highly-specialized area of litigation requires knowledge of administrative litigation and litigating before civil courts.

Intellectual Property Litigation

Intellectual property litigation includes all matters relating to protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights. This can include patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and unfair competition claims. Intellectual property litigation often requires specialized technical knowledge and expertise in intellectual property laws.

Personal Injury Litigation

Personal injury litigation arises when individuals are injured or harmed due to the negligence or intentional actions of others. It includes car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and wrongful death claims. Personal injury litigation seeks compensation for the injured party’s damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related losses.

Environmental Litigation

Environmental litigation involves legal disputes related to environmental issues and violations of environmental laws and regulations. This includes pollution, hazardous waste disposal, water contamination, air quality violations, and land use and development disputes. Environmental litigation may involve government agencies, private entities, or individuals seeking to enforce environmental laws or seeking compensation for environmental damages.

Criminal Litigation

Criminal litigation involves legal disputes between the government and individuals accused of committing crimes. This includes theft, assault, drug offenses, and white-collar crimes. Criminal litigation aims to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused and, if found guilty, may result in penalties such as fines, probation, or imprisonment.

These are just a few examples of the different types of litigation that can arise in various legal contexts. Each type of litigation requires specialized knowledge and expertise to navigate the specific laws and procedures associated with
the respective area of law.

Process for Handling Different Types of Litigation Cases

While there are many different types of litigation, most follow a similar basic procedure. You should know that the process for handling different types of litigation cases can vary depending on the specific jurisdiction, legal system, and the nature of the case. However, in Tennessee, litigation usually follows these steps:

1. Consultation

A prospective litigant will meet with their attorney to discuss case information. During this meeting, the attorney will gather information about the case, assess its merits, and advise the client on available legal options.

2. Pleadings

If the client decides to proceed with the case, the attorney will prepare and file the necessary legal documents, typically including a complaint and an answer. The complaint outlines the plaintiff’s claims, while the answer responds to the allegations made by the plaintiff.

3. Discovery

During discovery, each side gathers evidence from the opposing side. This can involve various methods of data collection, requests for documents or records, and requests for admissions.

4. Settlement Negotiation

The parties may engage in settlement negotiations at any time during litigation. Settlements can help avoid the time and expense of a trial.

5. Trial

The case proceeds to trial if a settlement cannot be reached. Both sides present their arguments and evidence before a judge or jury.

6. Verdict and Judgment

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge or jury delivers the verdict, which determines the case’s outcome. If either party disagrees with the court’s decision, they may choose to file an appeal. The appeals process involves reviewing the trial court’s decision for errors of law or procedure. Appellate courts may affirm, reverse, or modify the original judgment.

How a Commercial Litigation Attorney Can Help

We understand the challenges you encounter when faced with any type of litigation. Our litigation attorneys have decades of experience helping individuals and business owners successfully navigate all aspects of litigation. Our firm has been in operation since 1860. Much has changed since then, but our team leans on our legacy of respect, integrity, and excellence in our client dealings.

Contact our dedicated team of attorneys today if you have questions about commercial litigation in Tennessee.