Civil Cases

by Meredith Richards

Types of Civil Cases

Lawsuits: are when one person sues another for damage
  • property disputes
  • Contract issues
  • Divorce
  • Negligence

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Types of Lawsuits

  1. Suits of equality: a person or group seeks fair treatment in a situation where there is no existing law to help decide the matter.

Adversarial Nature

If you are my adversary you are a person who fights against me.

Plaintiffs/ defendant

The judge may order the defendant of case to pay the following fees:

  • Fees charged by expert witness
  • Court reporter fees
  • Costs of constructing exhibits
  • Reproduction costs
  • Miscellaneous legal costs

Steps in a Civil Case

You hire a lawyer who files a complaint with the proper court.

Complaint: formal statement naming the plaintiff and the defendant and describes the lawsuit.

The court then sends a summons

Summons: A document telling the defendant of the suit against her and orders her to appear in court on a certain day and time.

Defendant may respond to the charges by having my own attorney "answer" to the complaint.

Pleadings: the complaint and the answer together

Pre-trial discussions: judge might have both parties in a meeting to help clarify differences and prepare for the trial.

Your case is really strong and I just offer you a settlement.


If the parties do not settle the case goes to trial.

The verdict is the decision.

Either I have to pay or I win and plaintiff (you) get nothing and you have to pay court costs.

Final step is to appeal.


Mediation: intervention is a dispute in order to resolve it.

Arbitration: the use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute.

Preponderance of Evidence: the greater weight of evidence.