Davis Law Blog: What is the Purpose of Our Civil Justice System?
In the United States, we have two justice systems: criminal and civil. The criminal justice system is utilized when someone commits a crime. Our firm focuses on representing individuals in the civil justice system. Civil litigation encompasses a wide swath of territory in terms of subject matter – civil cases can be about everything from personal injury and worker’s compensation to civil rights violations by companies – However, all of these cases generally function for two main purposes. The first purpose of the system – and the one that you will likely directly impact you – is to compensate people for losses that are incurred due to the negligence of somebody else. If you are injured in a car wreck that was caused by somebody else, the civil justice system will work to make sure that any damages to your property or your person are compensated to the fullest extent possible.
The second purpose of the civil justice system is to discourage conduct that needlessly endangers the public. This encompasses a wide variety of behaviors that are caused by both individuals and corporations. Some examples of dangerous conduct would be distracted driving or a company failing to make its premises safe for the public. These types of civil cases can be settled with fines and citations, working towards the end goal of producing a safer person or place. Holding persons and corporations financially responsible is one of the most effective ways to make our community a safer place.
A third purpose, tangentially-related to the two above, deals directly with the conduct of insurance companies. The civil justice system also ensures that insurance companies accept premiums while also making sure that the amounts due are paid to the proper parties. If you are injured while on the job, for example, the civil justice system will make sure worker’s compensation is merited and that insurance repays you for the bills you incurred after the injury. It you are a home business owner and have insurance that covers your building, your insurance must properly adjuster your claim, which includes paying for the complete restoration of your dwelling to its pre-occurrence condition. This is often known as insurance “bad faith” or “first party claims.”
Finally, the civil justice system also encompasses the South Carolina Family Court. Unlike most of the above cases, family court matters are heard and decided by a judge rather than a jury. In custody and divorce cases, the judge makes the determination as to division of assets, child custody and visitation, and the award of spousal and child support.