The 2018 annual report by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts showed that 277,010 civil lawsuits were filed for the year ending March 18, 2018. 

Despite the high number of civil lawsuits, it is often unclear to many citizens what it means.

What is a civil suit? And more importantly, what are the processes of settling a civil lawsuit when administering legal justice? Read on to find out.

What Is a Civil Suit?     

A civil suit settles private disputes between individuals or organizations. In a civil dispute, a person or entity (plaintiff) claims that another person or entity (defendant) has caused harm or failed to carry out a legal obligation owed to the plaintiff.

An entity may be an institution, corporation, or the government. Legal duties are recognized under the constitution or federal law.

The plaintiff builds a case to seek compensation for harm done, losses incurred, or to ask the court to order the defendant to fulfill legal duties.  

Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases

Unlike civil cases, criminal cases involve acts against the city, state, or the federal government. The government prosecutes criminal cases through the state attorney’s office. Acts against the people include serious crimes, felonies, and misdemeanors that are punishable by fines, imprisonment, time, and labor.

In some cases, lawbreakers may face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit if their actions (or lack of actions) overlap with criminal law and civil liability.  

Types of Civil Lawsuits

The variety of cases in civil courts can be grouped into four broad categories.

Torts Claims

Tortious acts cause physical, property, or reputation injury. The plaintiff can get assistance from an injury lawyer to claim compensation in cases of negligence, fraud, defamation, medical malpractice, and other tortious acts.   

Equitable Claims

A plaintiff makes an equitable claim by asking the court to take action and stop an action by the defendant (injunction). They may or may not be compensation made to the plaintiff.

Breach of Contract

Breach of contract is a failure to fulfill the requirements of an oral or written legally binding agreement without a legitimate legal excuse. The court may order fulfillment of the contract or compensation of losses incurred as a result or both.

Landlord/Tenant Conflicts

Civil courts handle various cases involving conflicts between landlords and tenants such as payment issues, eviction, and abiding to lease agreements and laws.     

The Process of Civil Suits

A civil case begins with the plaintiff filing a complaint with the court, which then serves the complaint to the defendant. After that, both the defendant and plaintiff gather and prepare material and evidence for the case.

At this stage, the court may advise both parties to settle their differences using other means of resolution to save time and resources. If they both agree to use mediation, the case is dismissed; otherwise, it goes to trial.

During the trial period, both parties present their case with the support of tangible evidence. During the trial, the judge presides over the arguments, and after both parties have made their case, the judge or jury makes the final decision.

A rule in favor of the plaintiff warranties compensation and meeting the plaintiff’s demands. Without enough justification for the plaintiff’s claims, the court rules in favor of the defendant.    

Learn More About the Judicial System

This article clearly and briefly answers the question, what is a civil suit? As a law cautious citizen, it is important to understand the judicial system to learn about your civil rights and responsibilities.

It greatly helps to have a working knowledge of legal processes to prepare for any eventually where you may be involved in a lawsuit.

Check out our blog for more informative articles. 

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