Civil litigation covers a broad area of law, just as criminal law is a generalization of both misdemeanor and felony crimes. In civil litigation, two or more parties enlist the help of civil courts to help resolve a dispute and determine what damages or corrective actions should be meted out. While this typically involves monetary restitution, the court may also make determinations about property division, child custody, the dissolution of a business partnership, or other remedies that don’t involve monetary compensation. Often, the parties involved in the civil dispute will try mediation to settle their differences first, but, in many cases, unresolved conflicts must go to court.
In the simplest terms, any court proceeding that isn’t a criminal case is assigned to civil court. However, there are some types of civil cases that are more commonly brought to court and require the expertise of an experienced civil litigator. These types of cases are common enough that you may be involved in one or more of them at some point within your lifetime.
These cases are covered by tort law, which revolves around one party causing injury or property damages to another through negligence. When negligence does cause injury or other damages, the victim may pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Common examples of personal injury suits include:
This type of civil litigation covers a broad area of the law in itself, which includes matters related to divorce, child custody, child or spousal support, and domestic violence. In these cases, the parties are asking the courts to make determinations about matters that may or may not involve the payment of damages. For instance, in a child custody case, civil litigators will argue for their client’s custody rights. This is a separate issue from child support payments, though that matter may also be addressed in the same court proceeding.
Breach of Contract
Civil courts also hear cases involving business partnerships and transactions. For instance, if two parties sign a contract and one of those parties fails to fulfill the terms of the contract, a breach has occurred. The wronged party can sue for breach of contract in a civil case to either recover monetary damages or to compel the other party to fulfill the original terms of the contract.
Landlord and Tenant Disputes
While eviction proceedings are common in this area of civil litigation, they are not the only actions that bring landlords and tenants to court. There are many ways either the landlord or the tenant may be accused of failing to comply with the terms of the lease and, if the parties can’t resolve the conflict on their own, they may need to go to court. One example might involve the landlord’s failure to provide essential services, such as a working water heater.
Real Estate Disputes
There are many issues that a civil court can help settle in the field of real estate. For instance, one party may have bought land without street access and may be trespassing on a neighboring party as a result. Property line disputes are also common conflicts that bring people to court. In many cases, the plaintiff may simply request an injunction from the court to stop the defendant from trespassing or committing some other act. Civil litigators with real estate experience are often hired to help pursue these types of cases, because they will know the related laws, as well as how real estate transactions are handled.
More Areas of Civil Litigation
In many cases, lawyers will often specialize in one area of civil litigation, allowing them to focus on the unique facets of that field. For instance, medical malpractice lawyers will have to possess an understanding of medical practices and procedures, as well as the laws that govern malpractice lawsuits. Taking the time to become educated in these areas and keeping updated on new changes to laws or medical procedures allows medical malpractice lawyers to provide their clients with the best possible representation.
Often, a civil case may not even see the inside of a courtroom. Civil litigators use their negotiating skills to help arrange a settlement that will be acceptable to the defendant and fair to their clients. Both sides are often motivated to avoid a lengthy and costly civil trial, so a settlement deal can usually be agreed upon. The plaintiff’s attorney must be concerned with doing what’s best for his client, so he won’t take any offer, just to avoid a trial and that means some cases do go to civil court.
The civil litigation process can be very time-consuming and injured victims may be in a hurry to accept a quick settlement. This can create a worse situation for the victim, because the defendant will likely offer a low settlement to resolve the case cheaply and quickly. Before considering any offer, it’s important to consult a civil litigation attorney and receive a professional evaluation of the case and of the settlement offer. An initial consultation with a civil litigation attorney is often free of charge and can help you get insight into your situation, enabling you to make an informed decision.
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