civil case

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A civil case is a private, non-criminal lawsuit, usually involving private property rights, including respecting rights stated under the Constitution or under federal or state law. For example, lawsuits involving breach of contract, probate, divorce, negligence, and copyright violations are just a few of the many hundreds of varieties of civil lawsuits.

A civil case starts when a person or entity (the plaintiff) claims that another person or entity (the defendant) has failed to perform a legal responsibility owed to the plaintiff. Both the plaintiff and the defendant are also called as "parties" or "litigants." The plaintiff may ask the court to tell the defendant to fulfill the obligation, or make compensation for the harm, or both.

[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]