Legal Dictionary

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Civil Lawsuit

A civil lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court of law in which a victim (usually referred to as the “plaintiff”) claims to be damaged by an offender (referred to as the “defendant”) for causing damages. These losses include physical or emotional injury, and or property or money losses. The plaintiff in a civil lawsuit seeks money from the defendant. The plaintiff must prove his or her claim by a “preponderance of evidence.”

A civil lawsuit is different from a criminal case. In a criminal case, a prosecutor files a criminal case against a defendant for committing a crime. If convicted, a defendant can face jail, fines, and numerous other penalties. The prosecutor has a higher burden to meet in a criminal case. The standard in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”