FAQ: What To Do When Your Civil Rights Are Violated?

Civil litigation involves areas of the law and justice that affect the legal status of individuals, disputes involving torts such as accidents, negligence, and defamation, contract disputes, consumer and commercial law, and other matters that involve private parties, businesses, organizations and governmental agencies. In civil litigation there is the attempt to right a wrong, honor an agreement, or settle a dispute. If there is a victim, they get compensation, and the person who is the cause of the wrong pays or is ordered to take a certain action or stop a certain action.  Typically, it does not involve criminal sanctions.

Civil Litigation encompasses many different kinds of cases, such as accident cases, premises liability,insurance claims and disputesemployment disputes, breach of contract cases, consumer disputes, discrimination cases, business disputes, malpractice, etc.

A Summons and Complaint is drafted, filed and served to initiate the action.  The Plaintiff or Petitioner can be identified as the person or entity that starts the action. The Plaintiff or Petitioner is the party alleging that it has been injured, harmed or wronged. The Defendant or Respondent is the person or entity that defends or responds to the action and is being accuded of causing the injury, harm or wrong.

If you are a named Defendant or Respondent, you need to quickly determine what you are being sued for, and when your answer to the complaint is due. The best way to understand your rights and the ramifications to you is to contact an attorney. If you are being accused of causing personal injuries as a result of a car accident, and if you have automobile liability insurance, or if you own a home and someone is attacked by your dog or falls on your property and if you have homeowners or renters insurance, you should contact your insurance company right away. If you are being sued for an action for which you are most likely not insured, such as breach of contract or a consumer protection violations, an attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and obligations with regard to the lawsuit. Bear in mind that different courts have jurisdiction over different kinds of cases.

With regard to the filing of an action, there are time limits called “Statutes of Limitation” which determine the time frame within which certain actions must be filed. A Statute of Limitations is a bar to a suit in the event that the Statute is missed. Different actions are governed by different Statutes of Limitation. The most prudent thing to do is contact an attorney to make sure that you haven’t missed the statute.


You have the right to represent yourself (unless you are being sued as a corporation) and there is no requirement that you have an attorney at anytime during a civil suit.  However, no one other than a lawyer may represent you in a court of law. However, there are many laws, rules and/or procedural requirements that you may not be aware of or understand and the old adage that “The man that represents himself has a fool for a client” often applies.

The Law Office of Frederick S. Schwartz has experience in most areas of civil litigation, including but not limited to car and motorcycle accidentspedestrian injuriesbus & truck accidents, dog-bites, animal attacks, toxic exposure and serious slip-and-fall accidentstraumatic brain injury, and wrongful death claims among many others personal injury matters; product defects, consumer rights & fraud, breach of contract, bad faith insurance practices, defamation, discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, etc.

It is our objective to advance the clients’ interests and get the best results while minimizing the cost and burden associated with litigation.