When the actions of another person have cost you money, or otherwise limited or infringed on your rights, like most people, you’ll probably try to work it out and come to a resolution that’s fair. But if the person who caused your losses won’t work with you, you may need to take legal action to get the outcome you want. You have the right to file a lawsuit, also known as a civil suit or civil action, to seek financial compensation for your losses. There are very specific rules, however, regarding where a lawsuit may be filed, as well as the process for moving from the initial filing through the gathering of evidence to trial.

GetLegal.com’s Lawsuits and Disputes Center walks you through the steps involved in filing a civil action. You’ll also find a wealth of information about the different courts, different types of legal actions, and ways that you can resolve legal controversies without the time and expense of litigation (such as mediation and arbitration).

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation refers to non-criminal court cases brought by individuals or organizations dealing with private and civil rights.

U.S. Courts

The U.S. court system consists of district courts, appellate courts, specialized courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Class-Action Lawsuit

A class action is a lawsuit filed by a group of people with the same or similar claims against one or more defendants.

Appellate Law

After a judge or jury renders a decision, a party may have the right to appeal the decision to a higher court in an effort to have the decision changed.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is a way to resolve a case without going to court. Arbitration and mediation are two examples of alternative dispute resolution.


In mediation, a professional, neutral mediator facilitates negotiations between parties in an effort to reach a resolution without going to court. Decisions of a mediator are not binding on the parties.


Arbitration is a non-judicial and legally binding way to resolve a controversy between parties.