PRACTICE AREAS
CIVIL LAW

McCallar Law firm can help you with civil law issues
such as litigation, tort and personal injury.

 

CIVIL LAW BASICS

In civil law, a private party (e.g., a corporation or individual person) files the lawsuit and becomes the plaintiff.  The defendant is the party that the lawsuit names. In general, a losing defendant in civil litigation only reimburses the plaintiff for losses caused by the defendant's behavior.


Damages
So-called punitive damages are never awarded in a civil case under contract law. In a civil case under tort law, there is a possibility of punitive damages, if the defendant's conduct is egregious and had either (1) a malicious intent (i.e., desire to cause harm), (2) gross negligence (i.e., conscious indifference), or (3) a willful disregard for the rights of others. The use of punitive damages makes a public example of the defendant and supposedly deters future wrongful conduct by others. Punitive damages are particularly important in torts involving dignitary harms (e.g., invasion of privacy) and civil rights, where the actual monetary injury to plaintiff(s) may be small.

One can purchase insurance that will pay damages and attorney's fees for tort claims. Such insurance coverage is a standard part of homeowner's insurance policies, automobile insurance, and insurance for businesses. In contrast, it is not possible for a defendant to purchase insurance to pay for his/her criminal acts.

While a court can order a defendant to pay damages, the plaintiff may receive nothing if the defendant has no assets and no insurance, or if the defendant is skillful in concealing assets. In this way, large awards for plaintiffs in tort cases are often an illusion.

Burden of Proof
In civil litigation, the burden of proof is initially on the plaintiff. However, there are a number of technical situations in which the burden shifts to the defendant. For example, when the plaintiff has made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to refute or rebut the plaintiff's evidence.

In civil litigation, the plaintiff wins if the preponderance of the evidence favors the plaintiff. For example, if the jury believes that there is more than a 50% probability that the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff's injury, the plaintiff wins. This is a very low standard, compared to criminal law. In my personal view, it is too low a standard, especially considering that the defendant could be ordered to pay millions of dollars to the plaintiff(s).

A few tort claims (e.g., fraud) require that plaintiff prove his/her case at a level of "clear and convincing evidence", which is a standard higher than preponderance, but less than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

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PERTAINING TO CIVIL LAW.
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McCallar Law Firm
115  West Oglethorpe Avenue
P.O. Box 9026
Savannah, Georgia 31412

Phone: 912-234-1215
Fax: 912-236-7549

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Practice Areas   :   Bankruptcy Law   |   Corporate Law   |   Civil Litigation   |   Arbitration
Our Attorneys   :   C. James McCallar, Jr.  |  Tiffany E. Caron
The Coastal Bankruptcy Law Institute


DISCLAIMER:

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.