If you have been harmed in some way, the law allows you to file a lawsuit against the person or company that harmed you. You and your lawyer will fill out many different forms to tell the Court what happened. The specific forms vary by type of case and jurisdiction.
The next step is getting notice to the defendant about the suit. This is done by filing various documents with the Court and paying a fee. Depending on the type of case, this may include a summons or complaint. It is also common to use a professional process server to hand-deliver the documents to the defendant. The documents will often have a deadline for the defendant to respond.
During this phase of the case, each party will gather evidence through interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath), depositions and inspection of physical evidence. The parties will also submit and argue various motions and pleadings. The judge or jury will decide the case based on the facts and applicable law. This decision is called a judgment or verdict.
If the plaintiff wins the case, they will receive a judgment awarding them damages that cover their losses. Defendants will often raise defenses to the claims and argue why they should not be liable. The burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal cases – the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant did what was claimed.