Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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The most typical are:

(1) Tort (typically “Negligence”) Actions:

A “tort” is a civil wrong. Say you were injured crossing a street by a driver speeding through the red light. You have incurred pain and suffering, medical and physical therapy expenses, and you missed work, using 20 days of sick leave. The driver’s insurance company offered to pay only the doctor bills and you are unsatisfied with the proposed settlement offer. You can file a tort action against the negligent driver in an effort to recover for both the out-of-pocket costs and the physical or emotional injuries you suffered. Tort-based lawsuits are frequently brought for injuries sustained as a result of negligence, defective products, medical malpractice, unsafe premises, unsafe products.

(2) Contract Actions:

You paid a supplier to deliver merchandise. The goods were defective. You want your money back. Or you paid a contractor to repair your leaky roof and after constantly badgering him to finish the job, hired someone else to do it. You want to “sue the tar out of him” but at least recover what it cost you to have someone else do the job. You can file a civil action claiming breach-of-contract.

(3) Family Law Actions:

In family court, common actions include divorce, child custody and child support cases.

(4) Private nuisances:

The proverbial “neighbor’s dog incessantly howling day and night and the neighbor does nothing” story. You file a lawsuit to force you neighbor to do something about his/her howling mutt.

Although there are over a million of them filed each year in Federal Bankruptcy Court, bankruptcy matters are not really lawsuits. There is no plaintiff or defendant although there may be claims raised in Bankruptcy Court that resemble lawsuits.