Civil litigation refers to lawsuits that you, the plaintiff, file against other people, the defendants, for the purpose of recovering money damages for an injury you suffered as the result of their alleged negligence or wrongdoing.
FindLaw explains that no one goes to jail if you win your civil lawsuit. Rather, the jury holds the defendants responsible for, and therefore liable for, their negligence or wrongdoing. After the jury decides how much your damages amount to, the judge enters a judgment against the defendants for that amount, which they then must then pay you.
Common civil suit types
Civil litigation covers a very wide variety of specific case types. Some of the most common include the following:
- Personal injury
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability
- Defective product liability
- Employment disputes
- Landlord/tenant disputes
If you sue someone for allegedly causing the wrongful death of your spouse, child, parent, etc., this also constitutes a civil lawsuit.
Other civil suit types
Sometimes you sue someone because you want them to perform a specific action rather than, or in addition to, pay you money. These civil suits include such types as breach of contract where you want the judge to instruct the defendants to live up to their agreement and perform the action(s) the contract calls for.
In a way, divorce proceedings likewise represent a form of civil suit. Even though you technically do not sue your spouse per se, litigating a divorce issue, such as child custody, nevertheless means that you ask a judge to resolve the dispute.
Bottom line, civil litigation is the means by which you obtain personal justice and likely a sense of closure when you believe someone has wronged you.