We are all familiar with the concept of criminal cases, but most people are not as familiar with civil cases. A civil lawsuit is a case in which one person can seek damages from another person for some type of negligence or for an act or omission that causes injury to a person. Civil lawsuits can also be brought by or against businesses and other entities.
Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases
Unlike criminal cases, which punish people for doing something that violates the law, civil cases are meant to compensate the victim for a loss. Civil cases can be brought by anyone and are typically instigated by a private party such as a business or person who has suffered some type of loss, otherwise known as damages. Criminal cases, on the other hand, can only be brought by a prosecutor or another attorney representing the government.
The burden of proof is not as high in civil cases as the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases. The burden of proof is what must be shown to prove that the defendant is liable for the damages that the plaintiff suffered. In civil cases, the applicable burden is by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more than likely that what the plaintiff is alleging against the defendant(s) is true.. By way of a visual, imagine an old-fashioned scale with two plates. A plaintiff must tip the scale in his/her favor in order to prevail, no matter how small. In a criminal case, the government must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much more difficult burden of proof.
In a civil lawsuit, it is money that is at stake. The plaintiff in the case will likely ask the court for a judgment for a certain amount of money for damages that the defendant must pay. In a criminal case, the defendant, if convicted of the crime, may face some type of fine, jail time, community service, and/or probation.
Types of Civil Cases
Civil cases encompass a wide variety of legal issues. Some of the most common types of civil cases include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tort claims: A tort is a wrongful act, other than a breach of contract, that results in an injury to a person, property, reputation, etc. resulting in the injured person being entitled to compensation. These cases may include personal injury, negligence, medical malpractice, and defamation.
- Breach of contract claims: Breach of contract cases usually result when one party fails to perform one or more of the terms of a contract, whether written or oral, without some sort of legal reason. These claims often include not completing a job, not paying on time or in full, or failing to deliver goods.
- Equitable claims: These claims ask the court to order an entity to take action or stop some types of action. It may also be joined with a monetary damage claim. These claims may include a restraining order for improper transfer of land or solicitation of customers belonging to a business.
- Landlord/Tenant issues: These claims occur when there are disputes between landlords and tenants such as payment issues, evictions, or return of security deposits.
Contact a Civil Claims Attorney Today
If you are facing any of the above issues or need to file a claim for any of the issues listed above, it is recommended that you contact a civil claims attorney today. Although these types of cases can sometimes be handled without the help of an attorney, they require certain steps be made and specific documents to be filed with the court. This can much more complex than most people are able to or willing to handle on their own. If you still have questions about a civil claim, contact a civil claims attorney today.