FAQ About Civil Litigation Law in Virginia

  • What is the civil justice system?

    The civil justice system is the part of our court system that deals with claims that are not criminal.  

  • What is a plaintiff and defendant?

    A plaintiff is the party bringing a civil claim.  A defendant is the party being sued.  

  • What does the civil process look like?

    It depends on the claims and the court in which those claims are brought.  Typically, a plaintiff files a complaint and a defendant files a responsive pleading.  The parties then engage in the discovery process and the claims will eventually get to a trial.  

  • How long do civil cases usually last?

    This depends on the complexity of the matter and the forum.  In some states, civil cases go on for years as there is no right to a speedy trial like in the criminal context.  

  • What type of cases are processed in civil courts?

    Cases that are heard in civil courts include business disputes, personal injury claims, will contests, and employment disputes.  

  • What is tort law?

    A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person or entity who causes the tort. 

  • What is contract law?

    Contracts are the bedrock of civil society.  A contract requires an offer, acceptance, and some form of consideration.  

  • How long do I have to file my claim?

    This depends on the location and the claim.  In Virginia, some statutes of limitations are as short as one year and as long as five years.  


  • What are the alternative methods of dispute resolution?

    ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution includes mediation and arbitration.  It is a way of settling disputes outside of the traditional litigation process.  

  • What are some common litigation suits?

    Some common litigation suits include divorce, breach of a restrictive covenant, or breach of contract.

  • Can you define defamation and slander? What do I need for a suit?

    Defamation includes untrue statements published by one person about another.  

  • My child damaged someone’s property, am I liable?

    It depends.  If your child is under a certain age, you are usually not liable for any damage they cause.  However, if you let your 14 year old drive your sports car and he or she kills someone, you could definitely be liable.  

  • I fell in a store; can I sue for my injuries?

    It depends.  Was there an unknown hazard like a freshly waxed floor that was not marked?  If so, then you could probably sue.  

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