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Definition - What does Lawsuit mean?

The United States legal system recognizes both criminal and civil cases. Under civil law, if a person or entity has been wronged or injured due to the negligence of another person or entity they may file a civil lawsuit against them. The person who filed the civil lawsuit is known as the plaintiff, and the suit is filed against the defendant.

The plaintiff may request damages in the amount they believe will make them "whole" or restore them to their position prior to the injury. Compensation for a civil lawsuit can include pain and suffering, wage compensation, medical compensation, attorney's fees, and in some cases, punitive damages. Generally, the defendant is not sent to jail unless they have violated a court order.
Winning a civil lawsuit

The plaintiff may win their civil lawsuit if they can prove the element of their civil claim: the defendant owed them a duty of care, they breached their duty, their breach caused their injury, and the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss. The elements of the civil lawsuit must be proven through a preponderance of evidence, which is a much lower burden of proof than that which is needed to win a guilty verdict in a criminal case.

Civil lawsuit process

The Civil lawsuit begins with the complaint and follows several steps: pleadings, discovery, trial, and possibly an appeal. Most civil lawsuits are settled prior to going to trial. All civil lawsuits must be filed before the statute of limitations expires or the defendant will lose their right to compensation for their loss.

Civil lawyers specialize in a variety of different types of law. If you are considering filing a civil lawsuit it is generally a good idea to find a civil lawyer who is familiar with the type of case you will be filing.

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