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Civil Claims

Definition - What does Civil Claims mean?

Civil claims are injury claims which involve personal disputes between corporations, persons, or other entities. Civil claims differ from criminal claims, which are cases in which the “state” or society deems the actions harmful to all.

For example, if a person is accused of a crime the state will file formal charges against them, called an indictment. The federal or state government then prosecutes the case on behalf of the people of the United States.

Individuals charged with a state crime are prosecuted by the state’s attorney’s office. Individuals charged with a federal crime are prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office.

When can I file a civil lawsuit?

Civil cases, however, are cases in which one party’s negligent, intentional, or unintentional actions have injured another person or entity. Civil claims do not have to follow a criminal indictment, although criminal actions which lead to injury can result in a civil injury claim against the criminal.

Civil claims can be filed if one party has been injured and suffered loss from the negligent or unintentional actions of another person. If enough evidence is provided to prove the required legal elements of the civil claim, the court or jury may award the injured party compensation for their loss or injury.

Winning a civil claim

A civil case is initiated when a person or entity (referred to as the plaintiff) decides to file a claim against another party (referred to as the defendant).

To win their civil claim the plaintiff must prove certain elements of their case. Specifically, they must prove the defendant owed them a duty of care, the defendant breached their duty, the breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff did, in fact, suffer loss or injury.

The plaintiff has the legal obligation to provide evidence to support their case and to convince the court, generally through a preponderance of evidence, that the defendant is responsible for their loss.

If they are not able to prove one or more elements of their civil claim, they will not be awarded compensation.

Common Civil Claims

The most common types of civil claims include:

  • Contract disputes
  • Car accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Libel and slander
  • Premise liability claims
  • Medical malpractice claims

Should I settle my civil case?

Up to 95% of civil claims are settled prior to trial. Not only is it expensive to take a case to court, it is also is very time-consuming.

Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, but if the case does go to trial the extra expenses, such as the deposition costs and witness fees, can easily erode the amount that could be paid to the plaintiff if they win their injury claim.

Before agreeing to a settlement a case or go to court it is important to understand the risks and costs associated with going to trial and your chances of winning in court.

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