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What Are The Types Of Legal Court Cases? (civil, divorce, criminal)

  • 6 min read

Here are some different types of court cases that can be found in a litigation environment:

These are all subject to mediation, they’re subject to the rules of the court. Most of these are civil type cases, there’s also criminal and family law cases.  The first type of case you normally see is what’s called a tort claim. A tort is a wrongful act or a damaging act that causes somebody to lose out on something. It could be injury,  loss of money, damage to property, negligence that causes you harm. These types of court claims are where a person or company did an action or inaction, which resulted in you losing out, being injured, damaged, or losing property. Some of these have to do with medical malpractice, car accidents, defamation, negligence, personal injury, battery on a person. Any of those can cause you damage and those damages could be immediate. They could be long-term, they could be loss of work, they could be medical expenses. These are the types of tort claims that you normally see in a lawsuit.


 Another type of case is a breach of contract.

What happens is if you have an agreement with somebody,  some type of contractual obligation, and you don’t follow through on it; that can also cause damage to the other person. It could cause them from not realizing the results of that arrangement which potentially result in: not having a job completed, bills unpaid.


You purchase some inventory or goods from a company and they don’t deliver it. That could have caused you losses. A breach of contract is not necessarily the same as a tort claim, but it does cause damage to the third party. That may be something that can be resolved either by paying damages or a suit for a specific performance. You will be asking the court and the judge to force the other party to go through with their deal. That would have the same result as giving you the money.


 Remember we’re not attorneys, we’re not giving you legal advice. We’re just giving you some examples of the types of cases that come up in mediation insurance and even investigations.


 Another type of case is an equitable claims case.

It’s usually where the court is asked to level the playing field. There may be something that is about to happen that could cause damage to somebody. It may be something that a business is harming a competitor. A case where there’s an equitable claim is asking the court to stop that from happening, or to reverse what’s already happened. Many times this has to do with a potential loss that has started but is not complete yet. The court can step in to keep it from escalating.


Another type of civil case that you see a lot is landlord-tenant cases.

You have a property owner that’s claiming that their tenant is not fulfilling their lease, they’re not paying their rent, they’re causing damage, doing something in breach. The tenant is saying no, I don’t want to be evicted because I have claims as well. I want to get my security deposit back, or I want more notice. Those types of cases are often in civil cases or civil court. Some jurisdictions have a separate landlord-tenant docket where it’s done separately in the civil court. It is a very specific type of case.


 You also have family law cases, and those are things like divorce, child support, visitation, probate, or death in the family.

These cases are part of the family law docket in most jurisdictions and those are designed to resolve conflicts usually about money. If you have a divorce, how do you distribute the assets of the couple if you have a family that’s dissolving? Who pays for child support? Who pays for spousal maintenance? Alimony? What is the correct amount and how do you evaluate the assets for that party to be distributed properly.  In some cases there’s non-monetary results like at like visitation custody decisions: where the child is going to go to school, who’s going to care for them in the off time, those can be resolved by family cases. Probate cases are often overlooked but there’s a lot of conflict in family law cases. 


Many times these can be resolved through mediation or arbitration. Family law cases again involve a lot of emotions. There’s family members that are fighting over the distribution of assets for a deceased person.  If your a child and your last remaining parent dies there’s already going to be emotions about that and now you have to decide who’s supposed to get what. If one family member thinks they need to get more than they’re entitled to, that’s where the conflicts come in.  Especially when one of the family members is trying to take more than they’re entitled to. Proper Court intervention in a family law case on the probate side can be just as intense as one on the divorce, or child support side.


The last type of case that you’ll see in many jurisdictions is a criminal case.

That’s when somebody is charged with a crime and then the deciding factor of guilt or innocence. Afterwards comes sentencing. If somebody’s arrested for burglary, the court is there to decide: did they commit the crime? Is there evidence that points to them being guilty of that Beyond A Reasonable Doubt? If there is a penalty after conviction, what is their sentence going to be? Many times those are resolved through a plea bargain which is a form of mediation or settlement. Sometimes it goes to a jury, and then the judge has to decide what the penalty is. Those are the basic types of court cases that you’ll see and we’ll discuss more in another article about what are the stages of each type of trial from the pre-trial all the way to verdict and distribution.

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