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Understanding a Civil Lawsuit

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You know what a criminal court case is, but what is a civil lawsuit? Each year hundreds of thousands of people in the nation are involved in a civil lawsuit in one fashion or another, and many of them have no idea before their involvement what a civil lawsuit is or how it works. They may even be confused as to why they are involved in one! If you’re involved in a civil lawsuit or are about to be, here is some basic information to help you understand why you may be involved.

You are the Sue-r
In the legal world, the person who is bringing a lawsuit on to someone or something else is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff is the person who feels that they were wronged and who is asking for compensation from the court. The compensation usually comes in the form of money but may include the defendant having to do something as well, such as cleaning up an area or something of the like. It is your responsibility to prove that the person you are suing wronged you.

The Sue-ee
If you are being sued, you are the defendant. It is your responsibility to prove that you didn’t do what the plaintiff said that you did, or that you should not be responsible for providing the compensation they are looking for. Depending on what you are getting sued for, you may, or may not, want to get a lawyer to represent you and your interests. If you choose to not hire a lawyer, make sure you do your research in order to give you the best chance of winning.

The Witness
If you were a witness to something that occurred, you may be required to speak about what you know. If, for instance, you were witness to a co-worker getting harmed on the job, and that co-worker later decides to sue the company you both work for, you may be asked by the defense or by the plaintiff to testify on what you saw. If you are concerned that you will get in trouble based on what you know, you can hire a lawyer to help represent your interests.

The Jury
The final way you can be involved in a civil lawsuit (unless you are part of the legal team) is to be a juror. Many civil lawsuits never need a jury, but some larger ones require that twelve people make the decision for the entire case. If you are a juror it will be your responsibility to listen to all of the information that is presented to you so that you can make a decision about what action, if any, you believe should be taken.

Being a part of a civil lawsuit can be a bit intimidating, especially if you are the one being sued. If you are, you may want to seek legal representation from a qualified defense attorney, as the average citizen does not have enough training to be able to adequately defend themselves when they are involved in a civil suit.

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