What Is Civil Justice? - Definition, Process & Rules

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  • 0:01 Definition of Civil Justice
  • 0:40 Process of Civil Justice
  • 1:56 Civil Rules of Procedure
  • 2:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

In this lesson, you'll learn what constitutes civil justice by examining the definition of civil justice, reviewing the civil justice process, and analyzing the rules of civil justice.

Definition of Civil Justice

Have you ever heard the expression 'Show me the money?' Well, with civil justice, that is the question the court typically seeks to answer. Civil justice is a way for individuals to achieve a fair solution when they have been injured or harmed due to another person's negligence, recklessness, or malpractice. The civil justice system allows one to sue for money damages and obtain recovery for injuries. In other words, the civil justice system allows one to hold others accountable for their actions. If the court finds that one is liable, that party has to 'show the money' and pay damages to the injured party.

Process of Civil Justice

Initially, to get a case started, you must file a complaint against the person or entity you want to sue. The person who initiates the case is known as the plaintiff, while the person against whom the case is brought is known as the defendant. The complaint includes a list of the allegations you (the plaintiff) are making against that person or entity (the defendant). That person or entity has a certain amount of time to respond in a formal answer, or they can make other types of motions, such as a motion to dismiss the complaint.

Next, the case will go through a maze of different types of legal motions and, eventually, it may get to trial. At the trial, each side will have the chance to present its case and make arguments. The plaintiff has the burden to prove their case, while the defendant simply must defend their side of the story.

Once each side has presented their case, the judge or jury will make a determination. If the defendant is found liable, the defendant will be responsible for either paying a sum of money to the plaintiff or performing an act, or a combination of these. For instance, if the plaintiff was suing the defendant for infringing on a copyright, the jury could award the plaintiff a sum of money plus force the defendant to stop the copyright infringement.

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