Examples of Civil Law Cases
Ø Contract Law: You have just purchased your first car. In Missouri, you must have car insurance in order to title and obtain a license for the car. One day, an engine fire destroys your car. The fire is an accident; no one is to blame. Your insurance policy specifically states the insurance will pay you for the value of the car. This is a contract between you and your insurance company. Your part is to pay the premiums and not to intentionally harm your car and the insurance company’s part is to pay you when something happens to your car.
Ø Family Law: Your best friend’s parents get a divorce. The judge awards custody of your friend’s sister to the mother and of your friend to the father. The friend and sister want to live together. They ask a lawyer to change the custody order.
Ø Intellectual Property Law: You are an aspiring writer who posted a story on the Internet. Under copyright laws, this story belongs to you, and you have noted that the story is yours with a copyright line. However, a few months after posting your story, you see the same story, with a different title and someone else claiming authorship printed in a magazine. You may sue the magazine and the alleged new author for pirating your story.
Ø Tort Law: You are a basketball star who was late for practice. You rushed out your door, tripped over your neighbor’s dog, and broke your wrist. You consider suing your neighbors. Whether or not you win your lawsuit will depend on who is at fault. Are your neighbors to blame? Or should you have been paying attention to where you were going? If you do sue, you will be the plaintiff and your neighbors will be the defendants. You or your attorney will allege that the neighbors should have had their dog in their yard. Because they did not, you broke your wrist, incurred medical expenses, and worst of all, you missed the entire basketball season. You are suing the neighbors for medical expenses and for the pain and suffering caused by missing the basketball season. The neighbors may claim that, even though their dog was at your door, your injuries were at least partially your fault because you didn’t look where you were going and witnesses say that the dog was barking loudly at the time. The defendant is claiming you “contributed” to your injuries and must pay some of the damages yourself. This is called comparative negligence.