A civil lawsuit is the process by which one person can seek to hold the other responsible for harm. It is a court process, whereby if the person who initiates the case is successful, they receive compensation. Such compensation is paid by the person who is said to be responsible for the harm caused.
A civil lawsuit can be brought over any of the following issues:
- Contract dispute
- Residential eviction for a broken lease
- Injuries sustained in a car accident, etc.
The basis of a civil lawsuit is to compensate the person who was harmed. And often such compensation is by way of monetary damages paid by the defendant to the plaintiff.
Civil Case v. Criminal Case
Civil cases and civil court differ from criminal cases and criminal court. There are three key ways these differ:
- Civil lawsuits can be brought by anyone – generally such a case is started by a private party. This can be a person or business who alleges that they suffered some kind of harm or damage. However, a criminal case is brought by a prosecutor or another attorney representing the local government.
- Burden of proof – in civil cases the burden of proof required from the plaintiff is by ‘a preponderance of the evidence’. This means that, the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that what they’re alleging actually happened. However, in a criminal case the government must show that the defendant’s guilt is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. It is tougher to meet the standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ as compared to ‘a preponderance of the evidence’.
- Losers pay money – in a civil lawsuit the issue at stake is measured in money. Therefore, a judgement entitles the plaintiff to a certain amount of money to be paid by the defendant. However, in a criminal case, freedoms are at stake. The defendant if convicted faces jail time, probation, a fine, performing community service, etc.