Litigation and the Law


Since the states are independent sovereigns with their own laws and elected officials, each state maintains its own court system. Accordingly, each state has co-existing Federal and State Courts. The state courts enforce the state laws and the federal courts enforce the federal laws. Federal Courts also sometimes hear state law cases between residents of multiple states.


Our law is derived from both statutes and common law. Statutes are laws passed by our elected officials. In California, our statutes are found in the California Constitution and the California Codes. Federal statutory law is found in the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Codes. On some issues, California law is limited by federal law.

Additionally, most states, including California, follow "common law". Common law permits the Courts to apply reasoned principals to situations not addressed by statutes.

Of course, Courts also interpret the meaning of the statutes.

An important principal in both application of common law and interpretation of statutes is "stare decisis". This simply means that as the Appellate Courts make decisions, the decisions are recorded and consulted when addressing the same or similar issues in the future. Those prior decisions must be considered in order to provide consistency of the law.

What are the Statute of Limitations?

The statutes of limitations are time periods in which you have to file a lawsuit. When the statute of limitations expires on your case, you simply don't have a case anymore. Statutes of limitation differ not only from state to state, but also in regard to the kinds of lawsuits involved. In some states the statute of limitations for medical malpractice, suits against governmental agencies, and wrongful death actions are shorter than that for other types of cases. An experienced lawyer can help you with them.

How long will it take to settle my claim?

The time it takes to settle a case depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. The more complex the case the longer it may take to settle.

Visit the following sites for more detailed information about our laws:

NOTICE: This general information sheet is not intended to guide you in the defenses of your particular case or provide legal advice as to your particular case. Each case is different. For legal advice on the particulars of your case, you should consult an attorney. To speak to an experienced attorney please contact Roberts & Elliott at 408-275-9800

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