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What Is Civil Litigation (Explained: All You Need To Know)

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What is Civil Litigation?

What’s important to know about it?

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Let me explain to you what Civil Litigation works and why it matters!

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What Is Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is a term used to refer to a specific type of litigation where the dispute is between private parties and the remedies sought in general are monetary damages or specific performance.

The term “litigation” refers to the entire journey a person or company goes through in investigating a potential cause of action, filing a lawsuit, going through legal proceedings, getting a judgment, appealing, and finally enforcing the judgment.

Now, to say “civil” litigation, the idea is to refer to the journey that a person or company will need to go through in submitting a dispute to the court system for resolution in areas that are considered part of civil law (as opposed to criminal).

For example, civil litigation can be in the area of medical malpractice, personal injury, product liability, matrimonial dispute, contractual disputes, intellectual property disputes, commercial disputes, real estate disputes, landlord and tenant disputes, and so on.

Broadly speaking, civil litigation refers to any type of litigation that does not involve criminal charges or penalties.

Keep reading as I will further break down the meaning of civil litigation and tell you how it works.

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Civil Litigation Steps

Civil litigation involves many steps inside and outside of a courtroom.

The first step in civil litigation is for a party to investigate the possibility of filing a claim in court.

In this stage, a qualified attorney will generally assess the facts, gather information, and determine whether there is enough evidence to eventually file a claim.

The next stage in civil litigation is to send the other party a notice of claim asking for monetary compensation or asking for the execution of certain obligations.

If the matter is not resolved between the parties, the next step in civil litigation is the filing of a lawsuit against the defendant where a formal complaint is filed in court.

Following the filing of a lawsuit, the parties will follow through with the different stages in a civil action such as performing discoveries, filing motions, engaging experts, preparing for the hearing, and going to trial.

The final step in civil litigation is to enforce the court judgment.

If the court provides the plaintiff with a monetary award, the plaintiff will then demand payment from the defendant.

Should the defendant fail to make a voluntary payment, the plaintiff will then be able to enforce the judgment by seizing the defendant’s assets and taking other enforcement actions.

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Civil Litigation Statute of Limitations

When a person has a civil cause of action against another, it’s important to keep in mind the applicable statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations refers to the legal timeline a person has to file a formal complaint in court.

If you file a complaint after the expiration of your statute of limitations, the court will not even hear your case.

In other words, your case will be dismissed upfront.

If you have a civil cause of action against someone, you should immediately consult with a qualified attorney to better understand your rights and obligations.

If you cannot resolve your dispute out-of-court, you must absolutely file your lawsuit before the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations.

In some cases, there are exceptions.

It’s possible, in exceptional cases, that the statute of limitations is extended for a period of time.

For instance, in a personal injury dispute, the plaintiff may be to start the “legal clock” from the moment they discovered they had a cause of action (as opposed to the moment the injurious act took place).

For example, a person may not know that he or she has a medical malpractice case against a doctor until the person discovers in the future that the doctor has misdiagnosed the illness.

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Civil Litigation vs Criminal Litigation

What are the differences between civil litigation and criminal litigation?

To start with, civil litigation involves a dispute between private persons or organizations.

The most common remedy in civil litigation is the award of monetary damages or specific performance of an obligation.

A civil lawsuit is filed by a company or individual when they intend to formally request that the court resolve their dispute.

On the other hand, criminal litigation is a type of litigation filed against a person or organization by the state.

In the context of criminal litigation, the defendant can be exposed to fines, penalties, probation, and imprisonment.

The main objective pursued by the state in engaging in criminal action against someone is to protect the general population and keep us safe in society.

In some cases, some acts may result in both civil and criminal litigation.

For example, someone can be sued for damages caused by assault and/or battery and at the same time be charged for the crime of assault and/or battery.

Another example is when someone is charged with homicide in a criminal court and sued for wrongful death in a civil court.

Recommended article: What is a wrongful death lawsuit

What Is Civil Litigation FAQ

What does civil litigation mean?

Civil litigation is a broad term used to refer to any type of legal dispute between private parties that do not involve criminal accusations.

Typically, civil litigation is filed by an individual or company seeking monetary awards or specific performance.

What are common types of civil litigation?

Civil litigation includes a wide range of possible legal disputes between private parties.

Some of the more common types of civil litigation are personal injury cases, intellectual property disputes, medical malpractice, employment disputes, matrimonial disputes, contractual claims, and so on.

What are the different steps in civil litigation?

Civil litigation typically starts with the investigation of the claim.

A qualified attorney will look at the facts of the case and assess if the person has a valid claim or not.

Then, the plaintiff sends a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment or seeking the performance of a particular obligation.

The case then moves to the filing of a civil lawsuit and pleadings in court.

From there, you have the defendant filing an answer, discovery, pre-trial activities, and trial.

The end of the process is when you have your final and executory judgment enforced.

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So there you have it folks!

What is civil litigation?

In a nutshell, civil litigation involves disputes between private parties that are not based on criminal actions.

A civil lawsuit is based on civil laws where the plaintiff seeks compensation for damages caused by the defendant, specific performance, injunctive relief, or other remedies.

Since civil litigation does not involve criminal accusations, the defendant does not risk imprisonment.

Every court will have specific rules governing civil lawsuits and the litigation process.

The process typically starts with the plaintiff determining the cause of action against the defendant and gathering the required evidence, then it’s the sending of a demand letter, filing of a lawsuit, discovery, filing of motions, pre-trial actions, and trial.

Civil litigation can continue to the appeal or even all the way to the Supreme Court where a final and binding judgment will be issued.

If you have a civil cause of action or are looking to engage in civil litigation, be sure to consult with a qualified attorney to advise you in the process.

Now that you know what civil litigation is all about and how it works, good luck with your research!

Civil action
Small claims court
Antitrust litigation
Personal injury litigation
Intellectual property litigation
Contractual liability 
Wrongful death
Intentional tort
Affirmative defense

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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