Civil litigation is essentially any lawsuit that goes through a court that doesn't involve criminal charges. If you are considering filing a civil lawsuit, it means you could be looking to seek reparations of some kind, like compensation for a personal injury. This kind of lawsuit isn't designed for you to find a way to punish the other party, it's simply a way for you to get what you need in terms of compensation or justice through a settlement or agreement.
A civil lawsuit determines if a defendant should be forced to pay for damages alleged by a plaintiff by looking at the evidence of a case. The judge and jury, if there is one, listens to arguments and reviews evidence. The trial also gives the defendant a chance to argue the case you've brought against them. For instance, you may allege that you were struck by a person's vehicle because of his or her negligence, but the driver of the other vehicle could claim that you were at fault by walking out in front of them.
Once both sides have had time to make their arguments, the jury and judge review the case and decide on a verdict. If the jury and judge decide that the defendant is liable for damages, then the award is granted to the person who started the lawsuit. If not, then the defendant doesn't have to pay damages.
Not all civil litigation goes to trial. In fact, many settle out of court, which can help you close the case sooner and save money. You'll want to make sure the settlement is fair, though, before you sign any documents.
Source: FindLaw, "Civil Cases - The Basics," accessed July 16, 2015