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What are the Differences Between Civil, Criminal, and Commercial Litigation?

Civil litigation is when you, as an individual person, file a lawsuit against another person or company, and you are seeking financial compensation. There are many types of cases that would fall under the umbrella of civil litigation matters. These can include car accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and more.

One of the main differences that sets commercial litigation apart from civil litigation is the parties involved. With commercial litigation, businesses and companies are the main parties. There are similarities and differences between these types of litigation, as well.

Similarities Between Civil and Commercial Litigation

The process of how litigation progresses is relatively similar in both types of cases. You start by retaining an attorney, then conduct your investigations, verify applicable law, and send out your demand letters. Next you will attempt to start settlement negotiations, and if that does not work, you will file a lawsuit. Once the case is in litigation, the investigative phase is called discovery. If the case still does not resolve, it may go before a judge or jury for trial.

Differences Between Civil and Commercial Litigation

Aside from the main difference of who the parties are in commercial litigation, the issues tend to be complex and more specialized in commercial litigation. In some cases, the matter is actually heard in federal court rather than a Maryland state court. It can involve a significant number of parties or be spread out over multiple jurisdictions. Commercial litigation cases can last for years, and wind up taking multiple iterations throughout the process. It is often more expensive due to the costs of forensic experts and discovery.

Examples of Commercial Litigation

There are numerous types of litigation that fall under the heading of commercial litigation. These include:

  • Antitrust
  • Employer/Labor
  • Bad Faith
  • Business Torts
  • Class Action Cases
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Trade Secrets
  • Partnership and LLC Member Disputes
  • Intellectual Property
  • Tax Disputes
  • Construction and Real Estate
  • Securities Litigation

Civil Litigation vs Criminal Law

Some people mistakenly assume civil litigation is the same as criminal litigation, which is not accurate. Sometimes people become confused because you can sue someone for wrongful death in a civil suit, which is entirely separate from any murder charges brought forth in a criminal action. A criminal matter is filed by the government, typically the state’s prosecutor office. It involves jail or prison time, depending on the crime. There may be fines imposed, as well, which are imposed by the state.

Someone can be found not-guilty in a criminal trial, but still be ordered to pay damages in a civil suit. They are two separate actions, and are filed by different parties. The outcome of a criminal trial will usually have no bearing on the outcome of the civil matter. The rules of evidence differ in civil and criminal matters as well. With a criminal case, someone has to be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whereas civil cases require a “preponderance of the evidence.”

Contact a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in an accident, accused of a crime, or trying to enforce a contract against someone else, you need an experienced Maryland attorney. Contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro today at 301-870-1200 to schedule an initial consultation. Let one of our knowledgeable attorneys help determine what type of case you need to file.