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"Civil law" refers to the system of law in the United States that deals with non-criminal matters. Generally, civil law is used to resolve disputes between private individuals, when one person alleges that another has committed a legal wrong against him, and asks a court to provide some kind of remedy. In civil law, the remedy awarded by a court is usually in the form of monetary damages, where the court orders the defendant (the person being sued) to pay the plaintiff (the person suing) a sum of money to compensate for injuries that the defendant is found to have caused to the plaintiff.
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There are many different aspects to civil law. For example, while the vast majority of civil cases involve an award of damages only intended to compensate the victim of wrongdoing for actual harm they suffered, courts will sometimes award punitive damages. These damages are not tied to any particular injury, and are instead awarded when the conduct of the defendant is seen as morally reprehensible, and deserving of punishment, especially when the criminal justice system is unlikely to do so. The actual harm suffered by the plaintiff is not very relevant in considering whether to award punitive damages. Instead, a court looks only at the nature of the defendant's conduct. Punitive damage awards are quite rare.
Generally, damages are awarded when a person is found liable for committing a tort. Tort Law governs virtually all civil wrongs, other than breach of conduct. A tort is any legal wrong for which the law will provide a remedy. The most common tort that people are sued for is negligence. Negligence is committed when someone causes harm due to carelessness.
If you are involved in a civil lawsuit, you are going to have to deal with the civil procedure rules of your state. "Civil procedure" refers to the rules that govern how lawsuits are conducted, including things like discovery, admissibility of evidence, the process of filing a lawsuit, and other things not directly related to the substantive issues that are being litigated.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of civil litigations is the deposition. This is a question-and-answer session between a lawyer for one of the parties to a lawsuit, and a witness. This process can go on for several days, and is meant to get testimony on the record if there's a chance that the witness might not be able to testify at trial, or doing so would simply take up too much of the court's time.
Another common subset of civil litigation is business litigation. Business litigation involves any legal dispute between two or more business entities. It often concerns the sale of land or goods, or commercial leases. There are also many subsets of business litigation, such as antitrust litigation, unfair competition, and others.
Anyone who is involved in a legal dispute is likely to have to deal with the local civil courts, even if the matter never comes close to going to trial. The civil courts are the government entities tasked with providing a forum for the orderly resolution of legal disputes.
Civil courts have the power to render binding, enforceable judgments against defendants in lawsuits. However, court resources are limited, and they generally prefer that cases don't go to trial. For that reason, most courts have policies that require the parties to a lawsuit to make a good faith effort to settle their case (agree on a resolution amongst themselves, rather than asking the court to decide for them) before the court will consider letting it go to trial.
Usually, this is done through a mediator, who acts as a neutral intermediary between the parties. They can help ensure that the negotiations stay on track, and suggest creative settlement options that neither party might have thought of. They cannot, however, render a binding decision.
If you are involved in a legal dispute with another private party, chances are good that you're going to have to deal with the civil justice system of your state. These systems can be very complicated, and they can seem even more complicated than they are to somebody who is not experienced in dealing with them.
For that reason, you should not hesitate to seek the advice of a civil litigation attorney if you are involved in any type of legal dispute. Your attorney will help guide you through the process, and ensure that you have the best possible chance of obtaining a favorable result.