FAST FOOD LAW

Tempers flair, emotions are on red alert as injured parties scream, "I'm going to sue that SOB!" Yet, will they really get any satisfaction? How long will it take? Are they prepared for the long haul? Is there any way to shortcut the legal process?

Lawsuits are comprised of many intricate pieces, and navigating the court system is a long, drawn-out process which can take many years. Once papers have been filed and served the lawsuit process will begin. The beginning stages of the suit consists of court conferences which will yield a discovery order if the parties cannot reach an early resolution. Discovery is a comprehensive process of garnering information from the opposing side in order to gather evidence to bolster and prove one's case. The initial stage of discovery begins with the request and exchange of documents, photographs, emails, etc. along with information about witnesses, experts, and other requested data. This paper discovery stage can take many months, and may be further extended by either the failure of any party to fully cooperate or the need to obtain information from an outside third party such as a police report.

The next stage of discovery may consist of medical examinations of a party if an injury is claimed. These examinations can be extensive and take months to complete. The final stage consists of depositions whereby the parties, along with any witnesses, are examined and asked questions under oath. Some cases require many depositions which may spread out over months, and sometimes even a year or more if the case is complicated. Once discovery is complete, there is usually a number of court conferences scheduled in an effort to settle the case or move it towards trial. If all settlement efforts fail, then a trial will be scheduled. Unfortunately, the courts are overwhelmed with cases and trial dates may not be available for many months. So if you expect to resolve your differences in a court of law, buckle your seat belt for a long ride.

However, in certain emergency situations one can get into court and obtain relief fast. For instance, if one's house is being sold at the auction block there is a way to instantly stop the sale by obtaining what is termed a Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO. In fact, a person can submit papers and have a judge sign off on the order within hours as long as the other side was given notification of their intent to obtain the TRO.

If a person's situation is urgent but not considered dire an Order to Show Cause or OTC is also a method to obtain quick results. In this instance an OTC could be used to appoint a guardian for someone who is incapacitated or to get a flooded property quickly repaired before a winter freeze sets in. This remedy can also be used to stop imminent damage to property such as a neighbor wanting to chop down your 100 year-old oak tree. An Order to Show Cause can usually be obtained within 30 days or so.

Although there is no fast food law, in emergency situations the courts can grant rapid relief. However, for the most part, lawsuits are a long and drawn out process which can become quite costly. So try to keep your emotions in check and don't be so quick to jump into a lawsuit if you feel wronged. But if all options have been exhausted and there seems to be no other resolution, then litigation may be the only answer. Remember to consult with a qualified attorney when considering legal options.