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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

Lawsuits and DisputesCivil litigation refers to non-criminal court cases brought by individuals or organizations, with different penalties, burden of proof and parties than a criminal case.

The U.S. Federal Court System

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

Class Action Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits join a number of injured parties, allowing them to share costs as well as any potential recovery.

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 reviewed and reversed. The appellate process considers only errors of law, and never involves a review or determination of fact.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution refers to non-judicial ways to find and implement a final solution to a legal problem. Arbitration and mediation are two examples of alternative dispute resolution.


In mediation, a neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates negotiations between parties in an effort to reach a resolution without going to court. Mediators do not consider legal or factual arguments and do not render a decision. They work exclusively to help the parties find a mutually agreeable outcome.


In arbitration, a single referee or a panel of arbitrators listens to arguments, and renders a decision, which may or may not be binding. All persons serving as arbitrators are considered authorities in the specific legal issues being addressed.

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