Perceive the fundamentals of civil legislation

A civil lawsuit can be stressful for anyone. So hire a lawyer to accompany you throughout the experience. Knowing that you have a legal professional by your side can make all the difference.

For most people, the pros and cons of lawsuits are usually played out in courtroom television dramas. However, should you find yourself in a trial as a litigator, you definitely need to have a good understanding of how the system works to ensure your best chance of a positive outcome.

There are two jurisdictions in the United States: civil and criminal. Criminal proceedings involve an act that is generally considered to be harmful to society, while civil proceedings involve a dispute between individuals or organizations. The focus here is on civil cases as this type of lawsuit is far more common than a criminal case.

When civil and criminal matters combine

While civil and criminal cases are quite different, sometimes a crime can lead to both types of lawsuit. An example of this is a case of a drunk driver killing another person. The state could charge the driver with DUI and manslaughter, a criminal case. In addition, the victim’s family could bring an unlawful death lawsuit against the driver, a civil lawsuit that seeks to reclaim money for damage.

Every case of drunk driving has serious consequences. If you or a loved one is facing this situation, it is best to contact a DUI attorney in Washington or an attorney in your hometown.

How civil proceedings are categorized

Civil cases generally fall into four main categories:

  1. Breach of contract, which involves a series of enforceable agreements that an individual does not comply with. An example is a roofer who doesn’t do the job professionally.
  2. Property disputes involving ownership and use of property. An example of this is a homeowner who claims a neighbor’s fence has penetrated their property.
  3. Family cases that address issues raised by spouses, parents and children. Examples of these cases are divorce and adoptions.
  4. Tort in which one party claims to have been emotionally or physically harmed by the other. This can lead to personal injury and negligence, among other things, resulting in damage.

In addition to the four most common types, civil law also includes cases such as city complaints, where a person claims damage caused by the local government, and class actions, which are often defective products that are more likely to harm a group of people inflict as a person.

How a civil case moves through the court

The details vary by jurisdiction and the specifics of a particular case, but there is a general flow that most civil claims follow as they move through the judicial system. First, one party files a complaint against the other, which then files a response. The time between the initial filing of the lawsuit and the actual process is the pre-litigation phase. Both sides collect evidence and witnesses, exchange information and can discuss an out-of-court settlement.

Empty witness stand; Image by Brad Shorr, via wikimedia.com, public domain.

If no agreement is reached, the case goes to the litigation phase and is heard by a judge or jury. This phase can last an hour or several months, depending on how complicated the case is. Finally, a judgment is given and the case decided. After the judgment, the victorious party can claim the damages awarded at the post-trial stage, and either party can appeal the judgment itself.

What to do if there is a civil claim

If you are involved in a civil lawsuit, take a deep breath. Understanding the basics of civil law is a good first step. From there, you should make sure you know exactly what the lawsuit is about so that you can prepare to explain your side of the dispute in the clearest and most convincing way possible. Think about all possible arguments and questions the other party may have and be ready to answer them convincingly.

A civil lawsuit can be stressful for anyone. So hire a lawyer to accompany you throughout the experience. Knowing that you have a legal professional by your side can make all the difference.

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