Legal Issues

What Is a Civil Lawsuit, and What Happens if You Win?

When you picture a courtroom, you usually imagine a defendant in an orange jumpsuit, a jury, lawyers in suits, and a judge in a powdered wig. Not only is this image outdated, but it’s also inaccurate, as the vast majority of cases that the court sees are civil, not criminal.

In fact, in 2020, there were over 330,000 civil filings compared to the 90,000 or so criminal filings. It can be assumed that civil lawsuits are 3 times more frequent.

What exactly is a civil lawsuit? What happens if you win one? Here’s what you need to know.


What Is a Civil Lawsuit?

First things first, what is a civil lawsuit? Simply put, a civil lawsuit is any suit that isn’t criminal. It’s a lawsuit in which a crime need not have been committed, but parties cannot reach a resolution and seek restitution.

Anyone can file a civil lawsuit, which is part of the reason why they’re so common. You don’t have the same evidentiary burden as you do for a criminal case. And lastly, should the defendant lose the case, they will not face jail time.

If someone loses the case when they’ve been sued, they will need to pay out funds to the winners.

What Are the Most Common Types of Civil Lawsuits?

Since civil lawsuits create the bulk of the cases in our court dockets, it’s only natural that there are many different types of them. Some of the most common types include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal injury lawsuits: Filed in response to car accidents and malpractice
  • Divorce and family lawsuits: Handles custody disputes and other family issues
  • Contract disputes: Contain cases of employment and tenancy contract violations
  • Class action lawsuits: Suits filed on a massive scale against a corporation

When these civil lawsuit cases go to court, they can earn enormous sums of money for the plaintiffs, if successful. If they fail, the plaintiff can end up paying their own legal fees and might end up getting counter-sued.

What Happens When You Win a Civil Lawsuit?

So, what happens when you win a civil lawsuit? Typically, the defendant receives a civil judgment, which determines the damages they must pay you. These damages often take the form of a structured settlement, which will pay the total amount of money owed over time rather than in a lump sum.

However, there may be cases in which you need the money from your structured settlement sooner. If that happens, you need to reach out to a finance company like Such companies often also work with life insurance annuities and lottery winnings, to help you get the money you deserve or need ASAP.

Got More Legal Questions? We May Have Answers!

Hopefully, we’ve answered your initial question of “What is a civil lawsuit?” with enough clarity. The legal world is difficult to parse at times, even for those who make their living within it.

If you’ve got more legal questions, we may have the answers for you. Check out the Business Stuff section of our blog for more helpful articles like this one.

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