Overview of Civil Cases

Civil cases refer to court cases involving disputes between people or businesses over some violation of some personal rights or money. These cases usually begin when a plaintiff claims to have suffered some harm due to the actions of another person or business (the defendant). The first step is to file a complaint in court outlining the grievances and expected resolution.

If you have a civil case and are wondering how to get started, experienced lawyers from a civil litigation law firm in Philadelphia can guide you. They can help you file a complaint by creating a legal document that:

  • Outlines your facts and legal theories
  • Requests the court to make the defendant pay damages for the harm suffered
  • Requests for an injunction or an order that prevents the defendant from doing something specific or requires them to do something
  • Asks for a declaratory judgment that states each party’s rights under a statute or contract

What are the Different Types of Civil Lawsuits?

Civil litigation and criminal cases differ in the sense that plaintiffs in civil cases seek compensation in money or other form as opposed to criminal charges. In criminal cases, the prosecution represents the state where the trial happens and aims to punish the defendant for wrongdoing.

The most common types of cases that take place in a civil court are:

Contract Disputes

These happen when one or more parties to a contract fail to fulfill their obligations as outlined in the agreement. This occasionally happens due to fuzzy terms in a contract, creating disparate expectations. In other cases, it’s because one party overstretched itself but could not fulfill the obligations.

Tort Cases

Tort cases involve one party alleging that another caused them physical or emotional harm. Such cases take many forms and can be about a person’s personal or property safety or financial security. The most common types of tort cases include accident and injury, assault and battery, and negligence cases.

Property Disputes

Property law revolves around property ownership and damages to a person’s property or real estate. One common type of civil dispute involving property is a property line dispute, in which the plaintiff alleges that a neighbor crossed the property boundary line between their two properties.

Civil law, like criminal law, can be complex and challenging to navigate some of the issues yourself. Hiring experienced lawyers from a Philadelphia civil litigation firm for legal counsel and representation would be in your best interest.

What Are the Stages of a Civil Lawsuit?

The process of most civil lawsuits falls into the following stages:

Pre-filing stage

This marks the stage when the dispute arises, and both parties gather the necessary information. They try to negotiate a resolution while acknowledging the possibility of the case going to court. Before filing a civil lawsuit, it’s recommendable to let personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia evaluate your case to help you determine if you have a strong case.

They could advise on alternative methods of resolving the case depending on the issues you present and whether the defendant is willing to cooperate. Most civil cases resolve before they get to court.

You can resolve your issues through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a settlement between the parties, or case dismissal. Whichever direction your case takes, consider seeking legal counsel from a Philadelphia civil litigation law firm.

Pleading, Discovery, and Trial Stages

The plaintiff files their complaint in court, and the defendant files a response or motion. No witnesses testify at this stage, and no physical evidence is typically utilized. Since the plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant’s legal liability, they make the first opening statement, which is usually more detailed than the defendant’s.

The defendant then gives their interpretation of the facts, setting the stage for rebutting the plaintiff’s key evidence and presenting affirmative defenses. Having the representation of skilled personal injury attorneys in Philadelphia can enhance your chances of submitting a stronger case than if you argue out the facts independently.

Jury Instruction

Once both sides of the case have had their chance to present their arguments backed by evidence and have made their closing arguments, it’s time for a jury instruction. The judge gives a set of legal standards the jury will need to make a decision. The legal standards in each type of civil lawsuit depend on the civil claims at issue and the evidence presented.

Deliberation and Verdict

The jury examines the evidence to determine whether the defendant should be held responsible for the damages the plaintiff claims. The jury will also determine the extent of the defendant’s liability and the compensation amount they should pay. The process may last a few hours to several weeks, with the judge announcing the verdict in open court.

In some civil litigation cases, the focus isn’t always on the plaintiff’s allegations and the defendant’s liability. For example, divorce cases require judges to decide after listening to both parties. They may enter a judgment favoring one party in one issue (alimony) and the other in another (custody).

An Experienced Civil Litigation Attorney Guiding You Through Civil Cases

Civil litigation resolves civil matters, and statutes and local court rules govern the proceedings. If you have a civil case that you want to be resolved through court, start by filing a written complaint in a civil court. Skilled personal injury attorneys in Philadelphia can guide you on each step of the process to protect your rights.

The Liberty Law Team is a civil litigation law firm with skilled lawyers to help you resolve civil matters. Let us assess your case and help you evaluate your options as you seek to resolve it through the court system. We can provide the legal counsel and representation you need for a favorable outcome. Call us at (215) 826-3314 to schedule a FREE case evaluation.