Unlike criminal cases that are brought up by a district attorney, prosecutor, or an agent of the state, civil cases are lodged by one person or entity. Often, monetary compensation for damages is limited in civil cases, and there are special rules that apply as to the type of admissible evidence and what exactly must be proven for a defendant or plaintiff to win. With the exception of small claims court, an attorney can provide legal representation in a civil case.
The five types of civil cases outlined below are considered the most common.
- Contract Disputes – A contract dispute involves one person or several people who signed the same contract but for one reason or another will not or cannot fulfill the legal obligation. Sometimes, contract disputes arise because the terms were poorly written, but the main reason is overextension, meaning that one or more individuals do not have enough physical support or money to take care of the contractual obligation.
- Torts – With torts, one person alleges that another person caused emotional or physical harm. There are actually several different forms of torts. For example, a tort can relate to the safety of a person’s property, a person’s own physical safety, and even financial security. When related to an injury or accident, common torts usually involve cases of assault and battery. For negligence tort cases, one person alleges that a caregiver failed to perform his or her outlined duties.
- Class Action – Similarities exist between tort cases and class action lawsuits. With a class action, only the prosecution provides legal representation for a class or group of people who were harmed in some way by the same thing. This could be exposure to hazardous materials, defective products, physical illness, and so on. The goal is to prove that multiple people were negatively impacted prior to a product recall or appropriate remedy.
- Complaints Against a City – Although it is common for complaints against a city or federal government to reach an out-of-court settlement, there are some instances in which the government refuses to pay. This is when you need to have a qualified attorney on your side. For any case in which the plaintiff alleges harm due to city policy or law, a civil case can be brought.
- Property Disputes – A property dispute involves neighbors who both feel they are the rightful owner of land or real estate. However, a property dispute can also be filed if a person’s real estate or property was damaged by a neighbor. The most common type of dispute has to do with the property line. Usually, a civil case is filed when one neighbor damages, builds an infrastructure or uses a portion of land that the other neighbor believes is rightfully his or hers.
For any civil case, you want to first speak with an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. By sitting down in a consultation, you will know whether you have a viable case or not. If you do, you can then hire a lawyer to represent you, thereby improving your chance of winning.