A civil lawsuit is a legal dispute between two or more parties. Unlike a criminal lawsuit, which is meant to punish a wrongdoer for committing a crime, a civil lawsuit is meant to compensate a victim. In a civil lawsuit, the wrongdoer must pay for their actions in dollars, not in time behind bars.
A civil lawsuit begins when one party files a complaint with the court, describing how the other party caused them harm, damages, or injury, and asks the court to order relief. Relief can come in the form of money or in the form of a court order for the other party to discontinue the damaging behavior.