*This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.

Pop culture changes the way the general public looks at the legal system. On one hand, crime shows make some of the legal processes more accessible. On the other hand, the simplification of the legal system may make the general public feel more capable of understanding legal jargon than they actually are. This is not to speak poorly of the general public, of course, but rather to highlight the complexity of the language used in a courtroom setting.

One of the terms that becomes more complex in this environment is “lawsuit.” While the general public has heard this term before, pop culture and television fail to capture the complexities of a lawsuit and the details that fall under its definition.

If you’re reading a PeopleFinders criminal records report and you find the word “lawsuit” among your data, make sure you take the context of the term into account. If you don’t, you may find that you misunderstand the data with which you’re presented.

What is a Lawsuit?

A lawsuit is defined as legal action taken by an individual or individual entity against another individual or individual entity. Most often, lawsuits are enacted so that one party may regain or gain compensation for the other party’s behavior. That said, some lawsuits take place to preserve property, garner child custody, and so on. If you’re reading about a lawsuit in a criminal records check, you’ll need to assess the context in which the lawsuit was issued to understand what kind of lawsuit it was and how it was meant to impact your subject.

What Causes a Lawsuit?

You can declare a lawsuit against another person at any point, depending on the way they’ve behaved in regard to you. Comparatively, businesses can declare lawsuits at any point, depending on the changes in their relationship with past employees, current competitors, and so on.

Causes of lawsuits include, but are not limited to:

  • Employee injury at a business
  • Lack of compensation from a client
  • Lack of compensation from an employer
  • Illegal denial of employee benefits
  • Lack of warning labels on a product
  • Unsatisfactory consumer treatment

When Can a Person Be Sued?

It should also be noted that individuals can sue other individuals for personal or familial reasons. For example, one person might sue another to obtain custody of a child. These lawsuits take place on account of personal jurisdiction.

Personal jurisdiction is defined as a court’s ability to bring forward a defendant, to assess the claims of the prosecution and to enact judgment against the applicable defendant, if necessary. If a court finds it cannot enact personal jurisdiction upon the issuing of a lawsuit, that suit will be dropped.

Who Helps You With a Civil Lawsuit?

You do not want to issue a lawsuit without the aid of a lawyer. You can bring in a personal lawyer to help you build the grounds for a lawsuit if you are the party issuing it.

On the other hand, defendants may find themselves in need of a lawyer’s assistance, should they be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. In these cases, defendants can either procure a lawyer for themselves or be assigned one by the court in which they will be tried.

Note that lawyers taking on civil suits work for a retainer. Retainers are dollar amounts that reflect the hours a lawyer will put into a case. Clients are expected to pay retainers prior to the start of a trial. Once the retainer is paid, lawyers are not allowed to assume cases that may conflict in interest with the case for which they’ve been paid.

What Does a Trial After a Lawsuit Look Like?

Nowadays, people go to trial after a lawsuit less frequently, as it is cheaper for the two parties to settle their differences outside of the courtroom. However, if two parties do go to trial, the process will move forward as follows:

  1. A jury will be selected to assess the situation.
  2. Both the defense and the prosecution will issue opening statements referring to the nature of the lawsuit.
  3. The prosecution and defense will bring forward witnesses, should they be necessary, to attest to the need (or lack thereof) for the lawsuit.
  4. The defense and prosecution will cross-examine each other’s witnesses.
  5. The defense and prosecution will put forward their closing arguments.
  6. The jury will be instructed to leave the chamber to debate judgment.
  7. The jury will deliberate.
  8. The jury and judge will deliver the verdict.

Lawsuits do not tend to end quickly, as one might assume by looking at the above steps.

What Does It Mean If a Lawsuit Appears On a Criminal Records Report?

You may come across legal jargon you don’t immediately understand while conducting a criminal records check from PeopleFinders. This could include descriptions of a lawsuit your subject may have endured. If mention of a lawsuit does appear, you’ll need to read your report in more detail to understand what your subject’s relationship to the lawsuit was and how the outcome impacted them.