What Is a Civil Lawsuit?


Quick Answer

A civil lawsuit is a dispute between two or more people wherein all parties seek a legal ruling, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. A civil case begins with a complaint filed by the plaintiff that is then served to a defendant.

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Full Answer

During a civil case, the plaintiff describes injuries incurred by another party or parties, such as physical, financial or emotional injury, in which the plaintiff is seeking restraint from the defendant or financial compensation, according to the U.S. Courts. The defendant is also given the opportunity in court or during the discovery phase to provide a counter argument and proof of innocence or injury.

The courts render a judgment in most civil cases that may include monetary compensation, a restraining order or other types of relief, such as declaring a person's legal rights in certain situations, according to the U.S. Courts. In some cases, a civil case may not proceed to a judge if a resolution can be agreed upon by both parties. Judges often encourage both the plaintiff and the defendant to reach an agreement through arbitration or mediation to produce a settlement that is satisfactory to all parties involved in the civil suit.

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