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It is always best to have the assistance of an attorney to give you specific legal advice about your particular situation. The following provides general information about civil cases. Online help is available for self-represented persons at Michigan Legal Help where you can find Do-It-Yourself tools, articles, checklists, FAQs, & other resources.

Generally, a civil case is filed because of a disagreement between two people, businesses or organizations. The disagreement usually involves one person believing that he or she has been hurt or had rights violated or property damaged by another person. A civil case is not a criminal case.

If you are the one starting the case, you are called the plaintiff, and the person or business you are suing is called the defendant. In most civil cases, the plaintiff is asking for an amount of money to be paid by the defendant. The plaintiff is responsible for paying the filing fees as well as the cost of serving the defendant.

The district court will handle a civil case if the amount of damages claimed is less than $25,000. Filing takes place in the district court for the county where the incident occurred or in the district court for the county where the defendant lives.

To start a civil action, a summons and complaint must be filed, filing fees must be paid, and all of the parties must be served with notice of the complaint. Civil lawsuits can be disposed of by a bench trial (a trial in front of a judge), a jury trial, settlement between the parties, or dismissal. If a plaintiff is successful in a civil lawsuit, he or she will obtain a judgment which is a court order specifying what exactly the court is awarding to the plaintiff. The most commonly awarded relief in a civil lawsuit is money.

Model Civil Jury instructions can be found at Michigan Courts One Court of Justice website.