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Civil litigation law deals with legal matters between individuals or businesses. It can mean enforcing contractual agreements that one party has not fulfilled, or seeking restitution for damages caused by actions of the opposing party.
Essentially, it’s a broad area of law that deals with a variety of situations that aren’t criminal in nature.
It’s important to note that in any civil suit there is still a burden of reasonable proof similar to a criminal case, though to a lesser degree. That means that in order to pursue an individual or business for damages or other forms of restitution, you must be able to adequately demonstrate how the other party was in the wrong and how those actions justify the monetary amount you are seeking.
When You Are the Plaintiff (You Are Suing Someone Else)
The benefits of hiring a civil litigation attorney begin before you ever step foot in a courtroom. As mentioned above regarding the burden of proof, it’s important to have information that substantiates your claim well-organized from the beginning.
That means gathering documentation of events that occurred, conversations regarding the opposing party, and information that demonstrates the extent of damages you have suffered (whether emotional or monetary). Essentially, you need to be able to reasonably demonstrate the following:
- The specific wrongdoing of the other party and when it occurred
- Proof beyond reasonable doubt that it was the other party responsible for the wrongdoing
- Justification for the damages you are seeking. For instance, if it’s a monetary amount, why that amount makes sense given the damages.
Succeeding in this type of civil litigation is as much about being properly prepared with this information as it is anticipating the other party’s defense. Only with both of those pieces in play will your case have a solid chance of success in the courtroom — success that comes from experience.
When You Are the Defendant (Defending Yourself Against Someone Else’s Claims)
In this scenario the reverse approach is true. You still need to gather any evidence you can to either dispute the premise (i.e. that you are not actually responsible for the damages the plaintiff asserts) or the damages themselves.
For instance, suppose someone is suing you over a dispute and seeking $10,000 as restitution. They must demonstrate that you are responsible for the damages in the first place, and secondly that the amount they’re seeking is in line. If they’re claiming something you did cost their business $10,000 in lost revenue, they would have to substantiate how your actions cost them that much business in some way.
The value of a civil litigation attorney in this case is in understanding the other party’s case to best defend you against their claims. In scenarios where their case is strong enough, the value of the attorney is in the ability to negotiate the damages to a lower figure.
Civil litigation can encompass a variety of situations, including these as a few examples:
- Disputes between landlords and tenants
- Personal injuries
- Real estate lawsuits
- Business contracts and disputes
- Workers’ compensation claims
- Intellectual property disputes
Arbitration and Mediation
It’s often preferable to opt for arbitration rather than litigation in court. When parties use arbitration, each lawyer presents their case to a neutral third party. After hearing both sides, the third party makes a determination that both parties agree to.
This way, quite often parties can reach an acceptable resolution without the expense or time investment of a court case. It’s still important to have experienced representation, but arbitration can be preferable alternative to a lengthy court case.