What Does a Civil Lawyer Do And How Will They Help Your Civil Case?
Did you file a civil lawsuit? To better represent your case, a civil lawyer will help defend you. Here's what civil lawyers do and how they can help.
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The average American is familiar with the inside of a courtroom not through personal experience but through popular media. They hear and see the supposed theatrics of criminal courtrooms and associate them with justice.
Not all justice is criminal. In fact, civil cases are becoming a more popular way to settle disputes with U.S. district courts seeing a six percent rise in civil court proceedings in 2017.
Here's another strange truth: very few civil proceedings go to trial. Trials are time consuming, costly and unnecessary. A civil lawyer today isn't worried about preparing for court; they help ensure you get the settlement you deserve without a day in court.
Do you know what civil lawyers really do and how they can help you? Keep reading to learn how civil lawyers have changed the world and how they can change your case.
What Is a Civil Attorney?
Civil attorneys are more popularly known as litigators. These professionals work primarily on civil lawsuits filed in civil courts but they may also participate in arbitration and mediation processes. These trials and processes may take place aren't always found in the courtroom. They may take place in:
- Administrative agencies
- Foreign tribunals
- Federal court
- State court
- Local court
Civil litigation often falls under one of the following categories of law:
- Housing law
- Labor and employment
- Environmental law
- Intellectual property
- Product liability
Although criminal trials are most commonly represented in the media, some of the most famous court cases in U.S. history were civil cases.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was a Supreme Court case between Linda Brown and the Kansas Board of Education. The justices ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional because the practice was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution.
What Is a Civil Lawsuit?
A civil lawsuit is a private dispute between two parties. The dispute may include either two people or two groups. The lawsuit a court process that allows one party to hold a second party liable for an action, usually an action that wronged the first party.
For example, in the Brown v. Board of Education Case, the Topeka NAACP argued that segregation in Kansas schools was wrong because it violated the civil liberties laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
Civil lawsuits fall outside the government's criminal justice system. Judges in a civil court don't have the same legal powers as criminal court judges.
Both judges may compel an individual to perform reparations. However, while a criminal court judge may issue a jail sentence, civil court judges typically do not. The only jail sentences typically awarded during a civil suit are for contempt or disobeying a court order.
Choosing a Civil Procedure Even When the Wrong Was Criminal
Sometimes, a civil lawyer's role overlaps with the criminal justice system. Approximately 30 million Americans are the victims of a crime every year, but the criminal justice system doesn't always serve them well. In those cases, a plaintiff may choose to file a civil lawsuit.
Civil actions offer victims several benefits including the opportunity to:
- Remain in control of their case
- Receive greater compensation
- Encourage crime prevention
- Achieve greater justice and accountability
Civil litigation also offers another serious asset to those who've been wronged: a less stringent burden of proof.
Civil Lawsuits and the Burden of Proof
One of the biggest differences between civil and criminal proceedings beyond the venue is the burden of proof.
In a criminal case, a lawyer's task is to prove their case by using "proof beyond a reasonable doubt". In other words, it must be crystal clear to everyone that the accused is guilty through the evidence alone.
Civil lawsuits have a far lower burden of proof. They require only a preponderance of the evidence. One side must show that there's a 51% chance that the other party committed the wrong.
The differences in the standards of the burden of proof were on display in the O.J. Simpson trial. Simpson underwent criminal proceedings for the murder of his former wife and her friend. The jury in the criminal case found him "not guilty" of the charges because the burden of proof was lower than "proof beyond a reasonable doubt".
After the trial, both Nicole Brown's and Ron Goldman's family chose to file a civil suit against Simpson for "wrongful death". The judge in the civil case concluded that Simpson was liable for both deaths and mandated $33.5 million in damages with the ruling.
Why Hire a Civil Lawyer
Civil lawyers don't just work to right national injustices. They also work to right the ship on personal injustices. A civil lawyer most commonly works on cases involving:
- Personal injury
- Workers compensation
They're also involved in civil rights, business law, and personal injury law. In many other cases, lawyers are on hand to provide advice for those dealing with complex procedures.
How a Civil Lawyer Can Help
Civil lawyers perform essential functions in these cases. Their primary job is to gather the evidence required to present your side of the case to the opposition and in some cases the judge. They find evidence you may not even think of because of their experience in working these cases.
Their goal isn't just to prove what happened but to show why the event happened so that it never happens to anyone else.
Beyond evidence gathering, a civil lawyer listens to your side of the story and how you want to present yourself to the opposition. In this way, civil lawyers offer more than criminal attorneys or district attorneys. Those attorneys aim to punish wrongdoing rather than focus on your needs.
Ultimately, a civil lawsuit is aimed at justice for you - not just punishment for the other party.
Do You Need a Civil Case Attorney?
If you've been fighting an uphill battle to settle a dispute, then you may benefit from the services of a civil lawyer. A civil lawyer aims to help you find justice while encouraging the acknowledgment of a wrongdoing on behalf of the other party. Depending on your case, you may not even need to go to trial.
If you're wondering whether you have a civil case, contact us today.