What is an injunction?

An injunction is a court order that forces the defendant to start or stop doing something. People, companies, and government entities can all face injunctions. Most commonly, injunctions put a stop to ongoing conduct that continues to violate a person’s rights or causes injury. It’s important to remember when filing a lawsuit that you must request an injunction on top of damages when necessary.

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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: Jul 15, 2021

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The definition of injunction states that an injunction is an order issued by a court that forces the defendant––a person, corporation or government entity––to do something or stop doing something, depending on what the plaintiff is requesting. In relatively rare cases, the court may issue mandatory injunctions, compelling a person, company, or governmental unit to take affirmative action in carrying out a specified action.

When victims decide to file a lawsuit, they must specify what type of legal remedy (or relief) they are asking the court to grant them. While many victims seek money to compensate them for their injury, some injuries require a different type of legal remedy. Instead of asking a court for monetary damages, a plaintiff could ask the court for an injunction (or injunctive relief) against the defendant. The extent of the injunction and the procedures for obtaining it are generally set out in your state’s rules of civil procedure. Any plaintiff seeking injunctions should first consult with an experienced attorney

What is the purpose of an injunction?

Injunctive relief is appropriate to prevent a harmful action, to put a stop to ongoing or repeated conduct that violates a person’s rights or causes injury, or to force a defendant to take action in order to prevent harm.

It is important to note that when you file a lawsuit you may request both money damages and injunctive relief if both are necessary for an appropriate legal remedy; you may have filed a lawsuit with a request for money damages, but because the defendant continued to act in bad form, the continued violation of your rights shows that money damages are not sufficient to stop or deter a defendant and it seems you will need injunctions as well.

For example, if you own a website and another firm is continually copying the material on your site in violation of copyright notices and contractual provisions, then a court can award money damages and issue an injunction to prevent that conduct from recurring.

Injunctive relief is generally considered a legal remedy of last resort, so when you file a lawsuit you must show that you need the injunction because no other remedies are adequate for your situation either because the subject of the lawsuit is unique or money is not enough to deter bad behavior. For example, suppose you own a home surrounded by 100-year-old trees and your neighbor claims the trees are on his property and is planning on cutting them down. While the dispute is pending, the court will likely issue an injunction preventing your neighbor from cutting down the trees until the matter is heard and completely resolved. The injunction would be appropriate because money damages cannot replace 100-year-old trees. Essentially, you must show that irreparable harm will occur if the injunction is not granted.

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How do you get an injunction?

An injunction process begins with a petition requesting the court to grant injunctive relief. Because the petition is usually the beginning of a lawsuit, you will be required to pay a filing fee. Depending on the extent of the legal remedy you are requesting, the court may also require you to post a bond. If the court approves your request for an injunction, the court can order the defendant to temporarily do something or stop doing something they are doing until a final hearing can be held. This initial injunction is called a temporary injunction because it only lasts for a specified period of time until a hearing can determine the appropriate legal remedies.

At a final hearing, both sides are allowed to present evidence to the court. After the court hears evidence from both sides at a final hearing, the court will then decide whether the injunction should only be temporary or permanent depending on the issues surrounding the need for the original injunction. Before you file a lawsuit, you may want to consult with an attorney to review which type of legal remedy is best suited for your injuries. If you forget to ask for a particular type of legal remedy when you file a lawsuit, you could potentially lose the opportunity to ask for it a later time period.

What are permanent injunctions?

Permanent injunctions are typically issued once a lawsuit over the current activity is resolved, as opposed to a preliminary injunction, which is issued while the lawsuit is pending. A permanent injunction or perpetual injunction) is given at the time of the final judgment, and therefore it is prevalent for a longer period of time. The defendant is perpetually restrained from the commission of an act or the abstinence from the commission of an act. To obtain a permanent injunction, a party is required to prove its legal rights and that an injunction is an adequate remedy.

What are temporary injunctions?

temporary injunction is a relief from harm that serves as protection of the subject matter in the existing condition, without the defendant’s interference or threat. It protects the victim from being disposed of, or his property being destroyed or harmed, or from any injury to plaintiff. A temporary injunction protects the interests of an individual or entity until the final judgment. When granted, it lasts for a specified period of time, or until the court deems fit.

An injunction is often very important for the protection of rights.  An injunction order is not a right in itself; however, its denial is in the sole discretion of the courts. Examples of injunction include different kinds of civil injunction petitions that can be filed with the Clerk of Court in your county such as domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, and repeat violence. For example, a domestic violence injunction may be filed against a person who has lived with you as a family either now or in the past.

Domestic violence includes: assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death to petitioner or petitioner’s family.

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