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What Is Civil Litigation?

Sarah Edwards | May 08, 2023

Debt Collection Lawsuit Flowchart

Summary: There are two primary types of litigation — criminal and civil. Criminal cases include charges that could lead to incarceration or criminal penalties for a defendant, while civil claims typically result in monetary damages or an order of specific performance. SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a civil lawsuit without hiring a lawyer.

We’re all familiar with TV shows and movies that show high-stakes courtroom dramas that could have disastrous consequences for a defendant. However, in reality, most legal claims aren’t nearly as contentious as what you see on TV.

While it would be a stretch to say a courtroom is a pleasant place to be, you’re unlikely to see witnesses having a meltdown on the stand or Judge Judy screaming for order in the court.

There are two main forms of litigation. Criminal litigation occurs when a prosecutor alleges a defendant broke the law. A criminal case that ends in conviction can result in jail time, probation, and monetary penalties for a defendant.

Civil litigation includes claims that don’t have a criminal element. Typically, the plaintiff seeks some form of monetary remuneration or specific performance from the defendant. Civil litigation encompasses many legal practice areas, including family law, personal injury, intellectual property disputes, and debt lawsuits.

Have you recently received a debt collection notice from a collection agency? Use SoloSuit’s Debt Validation Letter to make them prove you owe money.

Use this process to start a civil litigation claim

Someone who believes another person or entity has violated their rights or otherwise caused harm may file a civil claim against them. To do so, they’ll need the services of a qualified attorney to help them through the process. The defendant will know they’re the subject of a lawsuit when they receive a Court Summons and a Complaint.

A Complaint lists the reasons for the lawsuit. Reasons will differ based on the type of harm the plaintiff suffered. For instance, if the plaintiff alleges that a botched surgery left them without the use of their arm, they would file a medical malpractice claim against the surgeon and ask for monetary damages as compensation.

Unless the defendant readily admits their guilt, they must file an Answer that lists their defenses against the legal claim. Depending on the type of case and its significance, the defendant may hire a lawyer to represent them. When the defendant has a lot at stake if they lose the case, hiring legal representation is best.

On the day of the court trial or hearing, the judge will listen to both the plaintiff's and the defendant’s sides of the story. Sometimes, the plaintiff and the defendant will call on witnesses to add credibility to their testimony. Following the trial or hearing, the judge will issue a decision. In some civil litigation claims, a jury decides on the outcome.

Do you need help filing an Answer in a debt lawsuit civil litigation claim? Watch this video to learn how:

How do you know if you need a lawyer in a civil lawsuit?

If you’re the defendant in a civil litigation claim, you must decide whether hiring a lawyer is necessary. Hiring a lawyer can be expensive, so most people decide based on what’s at stake in the case.

Unfortunately, hiring a lawyer can be a tricky process. It may take a lot of time to find someone who is willing to take your case, and they will probably end up charging a pretty penny. Luckily, SoloSuit gives you a way to represent yourself in civil court and win.

Let’s consider an example.

Example: AMD Medical is suing Jennifer for a $3000 medical bill. Jennifer receives a copy of AMD Medical’s Complaint, which frustrates her since she knows she’s already paid the bill. Instead of hiring an attorney to represent her at the hearing, Jennifer decides to represent herself. She uses SoloSuit to respond to AMD Medical’s Complaint with an Answer and provides a copy of her bank statement showing she paid the bill as evidence. On the day of the hearing, the judge reviews AMD Medical’s Complaint and Jennifer’s Answer. The judge finds that Jennifer already paid the bill and dismisses AMD Medical’s lawsuit.

Of course, if you’re dealing with a legal matter that’s more problematic, like a divorce involving child custody or a personal injury claim, hiring a lawyer will probably make sense.

Civil litigation lawsuits don’t involve criminal charges

The main difference between criminal and civil litigation is their potential outcome. A criminal case can end in jail time and legal penalties for the defendant, while a civil case typically involves monetary damages or an order for specific performance.

If you’re the defendant in a civil litigation claim, you must decide whether you need a lawyer’s assistance. Hiring a lawyer is a personal decision, but understand you may incur significant legal fees. Consider the severity of the claim before deciding whether you need a lawyer’s assistance.

Is a collection agency suing you for medical debt? Settle the debt today with SoloSettle’s help.

What is SoloSuit?

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You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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