The term “civil lawsuit” refers to a specific kind of lawsuit that seeks to obtain monetary reparations for damages caused by another person or entity. It is very different from a criminal lawsuit, in which a person is prosecuted after breaking a law. However, civil charges may also be filed against someone that is prosecuted for criminal charges, although the two parts of the case will be handled by separate courts and may not affect each other.
While a criminal trial may result in prison penalties or probation, a civil suit is usually held to make another party pay damages (money) to the injured party. In some cases, the person filing a civil lawsuit may seek to receive property or other assets from the offending party, instead of seeking out monetary reparations.
Civil lawsuits may also be used to obtain a court order to stop actions or require actions to be taken. Common examples of this include restraining orders and other orders of action that establish boundaries and penalties for the parties involved.
There are a number of different kinds of civil lawsuits. They may include family issues like child support orders or alimony, employment disputes like discrimination or personal injury, or other forms of lawsuits in which damages are sought. Depending on the amount of the claim, a civil lawsuit may be handed down to a small claims court.