Understanding Civil Laws

Civil law is the category of law that focuses on private relations between individuals. Unlike criminal cases in which the state prosecutes the accused, in civil cases are initiated by private parties.

Civil laws are necessary to prevent the escalation of disputes between individuals from reaching a violent confrontation. Civil laws help maintain harmony in the community by keeping a check on exploitative behavior or unethical practices. Most civil cases are settled by giving monetary compensation.

Legal Terms in a Civil Case:

A civil case begins when a “complaint” is filed by an individual or business called the “plaintiff” against a “defendant” who has harmed the plaintiff.

The plaintiff may demand “damages” from the defendant in court. Damages are a specific sum of money sought as compensation for the wrongdoing.

In certain civil cases, the plaintiff may ask the court for an “injunction” to prevent the defendant from performing certain actions.

Plaintiffs may also ask for a “declaratory judgment” wherein the court determines the rights of both parties as per a contract.

Civil cases are resolved in the court by a judge who listens to both parties and applies relevant laws to determine the penalty. Many times civil cases are settled out of court when both parties agree on the terms of settlement and the financial compensation to be awarded. Out-of-court settlements help save the time and expenses of both parties.

Following are some examples where civil laws come into play:

  • Contract Laws:

    Contracts are legally binding documents that establish certain obligations for either party in case of a conflict. Contract disputes arise when one party does not meet the terms of the contract. However, one party may be unable to meet its side of the bargain due to certain unforeseen circumstances. In such cases, civil law may come into force to reach a fair settlement. A dispute could also arise if both parties differ in their interpretation of the terms of the contract.

  • Tort Laws:

    These laws focus on issues related to civil wrongdoings like negligence and liability, etc. Personal injury cases come under tort laws.

  • Property Laws:

    These laws deal with people’s legal relationships with objects. Property laws pertain to a wide range of issues like purchase or transfer of land, contested ownership, etc. Property laws come into force when there is a dispute in the inheritance of property, etc.

  • Family Law:

    Family laws resolve domestic disputes before they go to court. These could be divorce cases or elder laws, etc. Family laws help in aspects of divorce settlements such as childcare and visitation rights, etc. Family laws also deal with paternity disputes, juvenile law, and domestic abuse cases, etc.

A professional civil lawyer is aware of all aspects of civil laws. He knows all the relevant codes and statutes for different types of civil cases.

It is recommended that you engage a civil lawyer who is certified and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where you are filing the lawsuit.

Autrey Law firm is one of the best law firms in North Dakota and Minnesota. We have a team of experienced civil lawyers who specialize in different types of civil laws.