Frequently Asked Questions About Consumer Defense

Please Note



Nothing on this web site should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm, or any of our attorneys. The information here is general in nature and should not be viewed as applying to your specific circumstances. Only a qualified consumer rights attorney can advise you about your specific situation. Hyde & Swigart are California consumer rights attorneys. State laws, and the interpretation and rulings on federal laws, are different in each jurisdiction. If you feel you need consumer rights legal advice, contact Hyde & Swigart at (619) 233-7770 for a free consultation.



If I decide I may need a lawyer, what does it cost for me to talk with Hyde & Swigart?

If you are concerned that talking with Hyde & Swigart is going to cost you money, stop worrying, it won't. If you think that bringing a lawsuit will cost you a lot of money, you are wrong. All you need is a good case and attorneys that want to help you. For more information, click here.

Do I need a lawyer?

Generally, yes. There are a lot of good reasons to have a lawyer:

Lawyers know the law. They know the ins and outs of the little things that can confuse you if you are not used to them.

Lawyers know what to do when the other side doesn't "play fair". They know when that happens (it's not always clear).

Lawyers know about the judges, and how they like to run their courtrooms. They know if you should ask for a jury trial, or a Court trial.

Lawyers know juries – what juries are like, if you’ll be a "likeable" plaintiff (this is very hard to figure out), and what a jury will likely do in your case.

A lot of lawyers have gone through this hundreds, sometimes thousands, of times. It's the lawyer’s job. Some do it 12 hours a day. It takes a lot of time and money to file a lawsuit. Even for a lawyer, it can be hard emotionally.

But, there are some reasons not to hire a lawyer:

You won’t win just because you have a lawyer.

Lawyers can be very expensive. (However, Hyde & Swigart may be able to represent you without cost unless you win.)

Lawyers are usually very busy.


Do I want to go to arbitration?

Usually not, but you may not have a choice. Arbitration is often one sided and expensive.

How does a lawsuit work?

The steps involved in a lawsuit are different from one court system to another. Therefore, when you receive a summons and complaint, it is important to read them carefully. Usually, when a case is filed and you are served with a summons, a clock starts running. You have a limited time to respond to the lawsuit by filing a document known as an appearance and, in most cases, filing an answer to the complaint. If you fail to take these steps, you may lose your right to dispute the lawsuit and defend yourself.

After you have filed your appearance and answer, a date may be set for either a trial or a report to the court on the status of the case. In the meantime, the parties have the right to conduct discovery. Discovery is a process for each side to find out more about the issues in dispute. It may require people to answer questions under oath in a deposition or through interrogatories. A deposition is an oral examination, while interrogatories are written answers to questions.

In most courts, the judge will try to settle the case after discovery is completed and before the trial. The great majority of cases do settle without going to trial. When a civil case goes to trial, it may be heard and decided by a judge or a jury. A jury will decide the case if any of the parties asks for one. Usually there is an additional filing fee to demand a jury. If the case is decided against the person being sued, the judge or jury will also decide how much the damages are.

After a settlement or trial, a court order is written and signed by the judge. The order sets out the obligations resulting from the lawsuit. If there is an order for damages and money is owed, the order can be enforced by various collection methods such as wage assignment, where money is taken out of a paycheck, or the sale of assets such as a car or house.

If you lose a lawsuit, you might be able to bring an appeal to a higher court. However, appeals can be brought for only a limited number of reasons and are costly and time consuming.


How do civil cases work?

This is complicated, and there is not a good general answer for this. However, here is a diagram that may help:

Legal Process