Examples of civil cases include personal injury lawsuits, civil rights lawsuits, wrongful death, copyright infringement or breach of contract, states FindLaw. Civil cases are legal disputes between two private parties that do not necessarily hinge on whether a law has been broken or one person faces criminal penalties such as imprisonment.
Civil cases are different from criminal cases, in which the government prosecutes an individual for a law violation. In those cases, penalties are assessed against the guilty party to punish him and deter others from committing similar crimes, according to FindLaw. A civil case does not necessarily involve a crime, and the government is not usually a party to such cases. For instance, if a homeowner files a civil suit against a neighbor for building a garage on his side of the property line, there is no government prosecutor, only the plaintiff (the first homeowner) and the defendant (the neighbor).
Civil suits are brought in state or federal court, and are decided by a judge or a jury, depending on the nature of the case and which jurisdiction it is in, reports FindLaw. Punishments for the losing party in a civil case often include monetary damages that must be paid to the plaintiff.