Each year, 15 million civil lawsuits are filed in the United States. Generally, these claims are lobbied by a party who feels they have incurred a loss as a result of a defendant’s actions. However, not all cases are created equally. Some types of lawsuits already have rules in place for their adjudication, but others have never been presented in the past or simply have no true basis for their filing.
The most common civil suits have a solid, legal basis for filing by plaintiffs. Most of the lawsuits that make it to court are found to have legal precedent, meaning similar cases have already been filed and damages have been awarded, or denied, in the past. Other cases are simply uncontested or go unanswered by the defendant. In many cases, this failure to respond will result in a default judgement. These clear-cut cases are generally handled in a timely and efficient manner because the civil litigation attorneys and court personnel usually have prior experience.
Some civil matters that are brought into court have not been presented in the past. Untried “cases of first impression” cause the courts to draw analogies from other areas of law and justify its decision. Plaintiff’s lawyers are required to establish a clear burden of proof with evidence that a defendant is more than likely liable in that case. The Supreme Court’s appellate division is most commonly associated with decisions that create a precedent. Examples of cases that set precedent in the United States include the Brown v. Board of Education decision that required school integration. Roe v. Wade later extended abortion rights to all United States women regardless of prior state law.
The final and most burdensome type of case brought by litigants are known as frivolous lawsuits. These cases have no true legal basis and are usually only filed as a means of harassment or in order to embarrass the opposition. Beyond the initial filing of a civil claim, frivolous actions can include a baseless court motion or an appeal that has no arguable basis. Unfortunately, most judges are reluctant to find a civil action frivolous. This is meant to not discourage people from using the courts to resolve civil disputes. Due to this reluctance. if a case is not defended properly, they can result in a successful claim by the plaintiff.
Some jurisdictions have guidelines for the amount of damages that can and should be awarded for clear-cut civil suits, but this is not always the case. Civil matters that involve personal injury, automobile accidents, and wrongful death have precedent for the filing and liability is often easy to prove. No matter the reasons for a civil proceeding, defendants should consult their attorney to ensure their protection from untried or frivolous lawsuits.