After this initial pleading stage, the parties enter into the “discovery” stage. Sworn testimony can be elicited from the Defendant and other witnesses concerning the facts of the case. A Defendant who improperly disputes a claim may be exposed at this stage.
As discovery winds down, the parties are typically required to attend non-binding mediation. At this stage, the parties attempt to voluntarily resolve the case with the help of a trained mediator. The vast majority of cases are resolved at the mediation stage.
If the parties are unable to voluntarily settle the claim, the parties prepare for and proceed to trial. The issues in the trial can be decided either by a single judge or by a panel (jury) of disinterested citizens chosen from the community.
If you prevail at trial, you will be awarded a judgment. The Defendant may pay the judgment once a decision has been rendered. It is also possible for a Defendant to appeal a money judgment, but the judgment debtor is required to post a significant cash bond for the right to appeal the trial court’s decision to the appellate court.