Generally speaking, a civil lawsuit is a legal mechanism used to hold people accountable for wrongful actions that are not criminal. This type of lawsuit usually involves a claimant who seeks financial compensation from a defendant (the party being accused). If you believe that you have cause to file a civil lawsuit, contact Alexander Petraglia.
Civil lawsuits can be brought against an individual, a business, or another entity. Criminal cases are designed to punish the wrongdoer. Alternatively, civil suits are intended to compensate the person who was wronged. Typically, compensation takes the form of “damages” –otherwise known as the money paid to the claimant by the defendant.
Civil lawsuits may be brought at either the state or federal level of government.
Distinctions Between Civil and Criminal Cases
There are a number of differences between criminal and civil cases.
Anyone Can File a Civil Lawsuit
Civil lawsuits are typically filed by a private person or group. When a party believes that they have sustained some type of damage or harm, that party may file a civil lawsuit.
Criminal cases, on the other hand, are filed by an attorney who represents the relevant level of government.
Standards of Evidence
In criminal cases, the government is required to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is an incredibly high standard that is meant to ensure that defendants are presumed to be innocent, except when there is sufficient evidence for their guilt.
The burden of proof in civil lawsuits follows a much lower standard. In civil cases, a judge or jury must decide which party’s claim is more likely to be true. This standard is known as the preponderance of the evidence.
Occasionally, a civil lawsuit will require each party to provide “clear and convincing evidence.” This standard is more stringent than a preponderance of the evidence but not as high as in a criminal case.
Losers in Civil Cases Pay Financial Recovery
The stakes of criminal and civil cases are very different. When a criminal defendant is convicted, their freedoms are often restricted through jail or probation. If a defendant in a civil lawsuit is determined to be liable, they will pay compensation to the plaintiff.
Common Types of Civil Lawsuits
Any time one party believes that they have sustained damages because of another party’s wrongful act, a lawsuit is possible. However, there are several different categories of civil lawsuits, which include:
Tort cases are the most common type of civil lawsuit. These are cases in which one party contends that another party has caused them emotional, physical, or financial harm.
Tort cases include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Car accidents
- Assault and battery
- Defamation, libel, and slander
- Wrongful death
This list is only partial. There are many more examples of tort cases.
Class Action Cases
In these civil lawsuits, the harmed party consists of a class or group of people who have sustained similar damages. Class action suits are common in cases of product liability or exposure to hazardous substances.
Contract Dispute Cases
When someone does not fulfill their contractual obligations, the other signees of a contract may file a civil lawsuit. This often occurs when business arrangements are unsuccessful, due to a breach of contract.
There is a wide range of circumstances in which a civil lawsuit is appropriate. If you are hoping to file a civil lawsuit, contact a skilled legal professional.
About Alexander Petraglia
Alexander Petraglia is a licensed criminal defense and family attorney who views his relationship with clients as a sacred bond. He passed his bar admissions in 2015 and has been vigorously defending his clients’ rights ever since. In a pursuit to perfect his trial skills and client care, he has graduated from the Gideon’s Promise Trial program for public defenders, one of the top trial training courses in the country.