Civil lawsuit question

I have a question regrading civil liability in a self-defense situation. Though I have never been in one, and hope not to.

Let’s say you were in a clear case of self-defense where you were attacked in your home after a forced entry. Maybe you are even in a castle doctrine and stand-your-ground state. You kill the attacker and the self defense action is ruled as justified.

But now the attacker’s family brings a civil lawsuit against you. And pardon my naivety here. You needed an attorney and big bucks (you hopefully had insurance) to defend yourself in court for the criminal lawsuit. And you’ll also need the same for the civil lawsuit. My question is, where does the attacker’s family get the funds to finance the civil lawsuit? Are the legal costs to prosecute in a civil case equivalent to the legal costs to defend yourself in a civil case? Or are prosecuting attorneys in such a case likely to not charge a fee unless they win?

Does the “bad guy” have no shortage of cash and legal representation in the civil lawsuit, or am I badly mistaken? Thanks for any help.

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Depending on how likely they would win in court or get a settlement, an attorney would take it on contingency. As many cases are settled, rather than incur the costs of fighting in court, and still lose, you will likely see more attorneys take that type of case. My wife and her company were the defendants in a suit, the company settled, to avoid court, even though my wife had several or more months of documentation of meetings, warnings, performance plan, training, etc., to prove the firing was just, and within the law.


Here in Florida, every “personal injury” attorney advertises that “you don’t pay unless we win.”

I am certain the same holds true for civil gun death law firms.


So is it fair to say that even in a clear act of justified self defense in the criminal case, civil cases are still frequently brought and settled out of court? And that the act of “settling” will still cost the home defender?

I need to read up more. I don’t understand how you can win your criminal case defense and lose the civil case defense. Though it apparently happens often enough. I’d like to read about an actual civil case and understand how/why the defense lost. Any good web links on that? Thank you!

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Depends on whether or not your insurance can cover the cost of the settlement. Even then, yes, it will cost you in the end (no pun intended). You may even lose your insurer, if they have to pay a claim. OJ won his criminal case and lost the civil suit against him. The burden of proof in civil cases is less than criminal, and you will not have the same jury.

No, I do not have any further to provide. I have not researched, and not interested in it at the moment. I was here only to aid you in your quest.



Personally, I still know that you can’t get blood out of a turnip. My was sued for $1 million for a car wreck.

Long story short they finally settled with the insurance that would only cover $100,000. Sometimes it’s good to be poor. Btw: the lady ran from the scene and didn’t get a ticket. We still think she ran a red light.

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To some degree it varies on the state. Some states will not allow civil suits if the criminal suit finds you innocent. Some states (Florida comes to mind) has the self-defense trial first and if that succeeds you dont have to goto criminal court and civil is also disallowed.

If it is allowed to get to a civil suit, there is really no limitation. Anyone can bring a suit against anyone else for pretty much anything.

The saving grace is lawyers don’t like to work for free :rofl:

The lawyer taking the case has to believe that a) they can win the case in court or b) it must be “close enough” where it is worth it for the defendant (you) to settle instead of being dragged through the court process.

“B” is usually where they make their bread and butter. If you have no money/assets the lawyer won’t take the case (for free/contingent) because there is no payout on the other end of the case no matter easy the case may seem to them. If you have insurance, that’s usually what they will target because insurance will usually just settle instead of going through the trial process**.

I don’t know how often this happens, but I don’t think it’s that common. There have been a few that I vaguely recall a civil suit, I don’t think they went anywhere because at the end of the day you still have to convince a judge in a civil trial that you did wrong. Now, maybe in some of our more progressive cities (Portland, et al) you would be more at risk, but I think most of the country’s judicial system still has a decent amount of common sense.

**It’s my understanding that there is a notable exception for car insurance against obviously frivolous cases, they counter with the full might of their fleet of attorneys and make the plaintiff eat the costs when insurance wins because they don’t want a precedent of payouts for cases with little/no merit


That looks recent and extremely painful. I Hope everyone came through that ok!
In my are there have been numerous hit and runs, the worst was an 8 yr old at a bus stop. The slimy teen that killed her is not even doing time! I don’t get it anymore.

I’m also trying to understand how a civil lawsuit is about getting “justice” in the case where the person who defended their home was already cleared of any wrongdoing in the criminal lawsuit. Or is it simply about money or possibly even retribution?


Ask oj simpson how things worked out


In NV if you are found innocent for a self defense shooting the family of the threat cannot sue you in civil court.

But, just to keep it basic, each bullet has 2 lawyers names on it.


I can only speak directly about Kentucky, However, the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are financed by the attorney and the attorney received compensation and reimbursement from any recovery made by the plaintiff.
As far as the right to sue in the situation you described, it is a question of law based on the jurisdiction where it occurred. Under Kentucky law, you are immune from prosecution in both criminal and civil actions if the force you used was legally justified. However, whether the force you used was justified is a question of law and is not always easy to answer.
And, even if you are acquitted in a criminal matter, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden of proof in most civil actions preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower hurdle to jump over. The difference mathematically is 99 percent for a criminal conviction and 51% for a civil win. And, in most criminal cases, a unanimous verdict is necessary and a civil trial requires 9 of 12.
That is how OJ got acquitted of killing Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman but was successfully sued for most of his worth.


I found my friend a great attorney in Florida. Mr. Wagner was his name and it’s him and his brother who practice. Never checked how that case went But his case was in Florida with a 3 year statue of limitation law. Here… In Louisiana… You got ONE year which screws plantiffs.

Regarding a solid case I’ve had attorneys just flat say they declined to except the case. (Free country I suppose)

But bad people do always seem to pull an attorney out their behind and getting millions for b/s. and good people that are just seeking compensation not a gold mind are crap out of luck.

But @MikeBKY said it.

You being a defendant in the scenario you speak of could play out either way. That’s the court system.

If this scenario does get past litigation and agreement pray your attorney takes appropriate time to question perspective jurors. Still, it’s a gamble.