Motions. These are requests made of the courts by your lawyer, asking that a ruling be made. Pre-trial motions can end the case entirely, should the court make a ruling to do so. This is referred to as a dispositive motion, such as a motion to dismiss. In many instances, however, the lawyer is not asking that an overall judgment be made, but just that the judges rule on some particular component of the case, as there are often points that are argued between lawyers throughout the pre-trial phase.
Settlement. A large number of lawsuits never make it to the courtroom. This occurs because a settlement is reached between the two parties before there is need for judge and jury. A settlement is made when the plaintiff agrees that he or she will not file nor seek further litigation against the defendant regarding the incident in question if the defendant pays an agreed upon amount of damages. These are often mutually beneficial agreements because it keeps both parties out of the courtroom, ensures that the financial needs of the plaintiff are met, and that the defendant can wash his or her hands of the mess.
The Trial. When a settlement cannot be reached and a motion to end the case is not granted by the courts, then the trial moves forward. In court, both parties are provided the opportunity to present their evidence and make their arguments. Before that can happen, however, a jury must be chosen and a date of trial must be set. This can take quite a long time in many cases. Eventually, however, the case will be heard, decided upon, and a verdict will be announced. Depending on the outcome, there may be the right to file an appeal. Otherwise, damages are paid and the parties go their separate ways.