All You Need to Know About Civil Lawsuits
In contrast to a criminal lawsuit, which requires justice, a civil case seeks compensation. A civil lawsuit begins when one person (the plaintiff) brings a lawsuit against another person (the defendant) for causing injury or failing to satisfy a contract. All sides are referred to as “litigants” or “parties.” Any individual or business that has suffered some level of damage can file a civil lawsuit.
What happens in a civil trial?
During a civil dispute, the complainant has the presumption of evidence to convince the judge or jury of his or her case, and the defendant has the responsibility of disapproving the plaintiff’s assertion. One or both parties provide evidence, and the judge or jury decides whether or not the defendant is guilty and to what degree. The plaintiff, defendant, or both could benefit from the jury’s decision. The stages include:
- Complaint: A legal suit begins with a complaint. This procedure entails bringing a legal suit in the proper court and filing a statement recognized as a “complaint” that explains why the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s damages.
- Pre-trial: This involves the back and forth between the two parties in the form of motions filed by lawyers. If the defendant feels the lawsuit is without merit, he or she will bring a petition to dismiss the case entirely. If the complainant and defendant settle to the facts of the event, the plaintiff will bring a petition for summary judgment, which leaves the defendants immediately responsible for the claimed damages. If the court rejects any of these motions, the civil case is closed, and no further action will be taken.
- Discovery of evidence: This is the stage of the case when both the complainant and defendant present evidence to the civil court for consideration, either to support or refute the plaintiff’s argument. Depositions can also be taken at this moment, in which someone testifies under oath on the facts of the event, just as a witness does in a court case.
- Settlement: During the proof collection period, the parties will consult with the presiding judge for one or two pre-trial sessions. They brief the court about their proof gathering progress to negotiate a proposed settlement: a legally binding deal under which the sides meet for a negotiated meeting and come up with terms of the resolution to avoid progressing to trial.
- Trial and judgment: If no settlement is made, it’s time to fight it out in court! The complainant and defendant are also called to arbitration, where the plaintiff shows their testimony first, accompanied by the defendant, and the jury decides.
How is the decision made?
A judge or jury decides by a preponderance of the evidence, which means it is more probable than not, and the complainant bears the presumption of proof. The amount of settlement to be paid to the complainant is then decided by the jury if they believe the plaintiff has proven his or her case.
Types of civil cases
- Personal injury lawsuit e.g., in the case of mesothelioma
- Medical malpractice and negligence such as in the case of birth injuries
- Wrongful eviction
- Breach of contract
Do all civil lawsuits go to trial?
The majority of legal lawsuits are settled out of court rather than going on trial. Alternative conflict resolution (ADR) is a method of resolving disputes outside the jurisdiction, such as litigation or consultation.