Civil Case Law Firm

Module 7 Lesson 2 Mastery Assignment

What Is Civil Cases?

A civil case is a case that do not involve with crime. Someone could sue another party for damages like compensatory damages or punitive damages. Compensatory damages are "money awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for damages, injury, or another incurred loss" (Investopedia). For example, if a person drives recklessly and damages your whole entire car, they will have to the amount of money the car is on the market. Punitive damages are a punishment for the defendant in addition to him or her paying for the compensatory damages. Punitive damages only happens when their crime is extremely unacceptable and outrageous to society.


A civil case begins with a plaintiff, person who is filing a lawsuit, hires a lawyer to file a complaint to a court. A complaint is a formal statement that includes the plaintiff, the defendant, person who is being sued, and what the lawsuit is. For example, a person was hurt during their job, they will hire a lawyer. The lawyer will file a complaint stating the person, the corporation and the injury the person had while under the corporation's ground.


The next step in a civil case is the court will send a summons to the defendant. The summons is a document informing the defendant of the lawsuit brought against him or her. It also includes when the defendant should appear in court with a date and time. The defendant can respond by having his own attorney but the defendant will respond with an answer to the complaint. A pleading is "formal written statements submitted at the opening of the trial. The plaintiff first submits a complaint, then the defendant submits its answer" (Cornell).

Discovery Phase

Lawyers from both side proceeds to find evidence to help their case and will exchange with each other pleadings to respond to the accusation. In the discovery phase, they can bring contracts, witness, etc. for evidence.


Before trial, a pretrial conference will occur. In pretrial conference, the judge will assist to clarify the differences and prepare both parties for the trial. If the judge believes both parties will go to court, both parties will attend the same meeting. A preponderance of evidence is the more convincing evidence a party has will help the party in trial. If a party believes the other party has a strong case, they may offer a settlement. For example, in a divorce matter, a judge can narrow the issues relating the divorce, creating a deadline, organizing the evidences found in the discovery phrase, custody plans, etc.

Other Options Beside Trial

Two options besides going to trial is mediation or arbitration. Mediation is bringing in a 3rd party into the case that will help both sides to agree on an agreement. Arbitration is a process that includes an arbitrator who makes the decision based on the evidence. Arbitration is similar to a trial but less formal. For example, a corporation and a individual can't make an agreement on the contract, they will see an arbitrator. Both sides will present their argument, reasons and evidence, the arbitrator will make a decision.


If both parties decide to have a trial, a jury or a judge will hear the case. A judge is an easier way out. In the trial, the plaintiff will begin first with the issue then the defendant may respond. After both parties present their arguments and evidence, the jury or judge will reach a verdict on whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. If a party loses, they will be given nothing and have to pay for the court costs. They may need to pay some sort of punitive damage. However, if either party believes the court made a mistake, they can appeal to a higher court.

Our Lawyers