CIVIL LAW

Civil Law Attorneys in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona

An Arizona civil law attorney should have extensive experience regarding complex civil litigation matters not only in Arizona trial courts but also in federal and appellate courts. The dedicated attorneys at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor have amassed decades of experience handling a wide range of civil matters for clients in Phoenix, Mesa, and the surrounding areas. Even though you are not required to hire an attorney for civil cases, consulting with our civil law attorneys can help take some of the pressure off you as you face your legal case.

About Civil Law

While criminal law involves the legal actions necessary to protect the public from individuals’ criminal misbehavior, civil law involves matters between private individuals. More specifically, civil litigation enables the court to enforce actions to resolve disputes between individual entities. 

Civil law is a broad umbrella that involves many different types of situations. In most cases, the plaintiff (the entity bringing the lawsuit) believes that the defendant named in the suit took some action that caused them some sort of damages. Sometimes, a lack of action (or negligence) causes damages to the plaintiff.

The primary goal of a civil case is remedying damages for the plaintiff; in most cases, this involves retrieving monetary damages either directly caused by the defendant or as compensation for some other type of damages. Damages can be retrieved for many different things depending on the details of the case. Some of the most common forms include monetary compensation for property damage, medical bills, loss of income due to missed work and lost wages, or even the pain and suffering a victim experienced due to the defendant’s actions or negligence. In addition, punitive damages can be assessed for malicious acts or gross negligence. 

A single case may involve complex determinations assessing multiple types of damages, and the amount of damages a plaintiff may qualify for can vary based on specific details. This is why it is so critical to secure the services of a skilled civil attorney. The civil law attorneys at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor can determine a reasonable set of damages, develop a strategy on how to achieve it, and ensure you receive a fair outcome for your case.

civil law attorneys

Civil Law Practice Areas

Gillespie, Shields & Taylor is proud to represent clients in civil litigation under these and other practice areas.

Personal Injury

If your injuries were caused by the actions or negligence of another person or business and have caused you damages, the other entity should be held accountable. Our attorneys can determine whether a defendant caused injuries due to negligence – which means that the defendant didn’t meet a pre-established duty of care and caused harm – or whether their actions caused damages. The personal injury attorneys at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor can help you pursue compensation for the damages you experienced.

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Car Accidents

A car accident caused by an inattentive driver can cause serious issues for individuals in other vehicles, including physical and emotional injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and more. A civil claim against such a distracted driver can help ensure you obtain damages for things your insurance company won’t cover. In addition, a skilled civil law attorney like those at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor will be well-versed in negotiating with the driver’s insurance company to obtain a settlement.

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Dog Attacks

Dog bites can cause serious injuries in humans. In Arizona, dog owners are considered to be under strict liability, which means that any injuries caused by a dog are the owner’s responsibility, even if the dog has never attacked before. If you were harmed without aggravating or intentionally provoking a dog, you have up to two years from the date of the attack to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner; contact Gillespie, Shields & Taylor to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.

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Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases are similar to personal injury cases, with the main difference being that negligence or a wrongful act has directly caused a death, and the deceased person’s (decedent’s) family is seeking damages on behalf of themselves and the decedent. You may be able to pursue compensation for things like funeral expenses or medical bills from before the victim died. The devastating emotional and financial side effects that come with losing a loved one may also qualify for compensation.

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Property Accidents

A property owner is expected to maintain a building properly so that injuries do not occur on the premises (a concept known as premises liability). If this is not possible, the owner must properly warn those who visit the property about any unsafe conditions. Failing to do so can render an owner liable if a visitor is injured due to a slippery floor or a broken staircase. If you’ve experienced an injury due to the negligence of a property owner, contact Gillespie, Shields & Taylor to request civil representation.

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Civil Rights

Every US citizen has established rights regarding how law enforcement and other governmental agencies must interact with them to ensure equality as well as social and political freedom. For example, if you have been treated poorly by police in a way that threatens your constitutional rights, you can pursue damages in civil court. Similarly, whether your family has been threatened, harassed, and mistreated by child welfare workers or DCS has mishandled your case, you must assert your constitutional rights in court. Gillespie, Shields & Taylor takes pride in ensuring the freedoms and rights of our clients, as well as in pursuing damages to remediate wrongful actions.

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Medical Malpractice

Wrongful actions or negligence by medical providers are especially dangerous because they can result in additional injuries and excessive suffering for their patients. Generally, a mistake made by a medical professional is considered malpractice when it violates the commonly accepted standard of care for that particular situation. In turn, standard of care is a term used to define the types of actions that are expected of a reasonable professional within that situation. If you or a loved one have experienced damages due to the negligence of a medical provider, Gillespie, Shields & Taylor can help.

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Intentional Acts/Wrongful Conduct

Civil cases can be complex and distressing. That’s why, at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor, we believe in going above and beyond for our clients, many of whom have recently experienced a traumatic event. Our attorneys are well-versed in a wide range of practice areas as well as clients from all walks of life with different needs and unique stories.

If you have recently experienced an injury due to someone’s actions or negligence, schedule a consultation with our firm.

Civil Law FAQs

Civil litigation can be difficult to understand for someone without Arizona court experience. To help, we’ve compiled the answers to some common questions asked by Phoenix-area residents. For more detailed information tailored to your case, consult with our experienced civil law attorneys.

How Do You Calculate Damages in Civil Law Cases?

There are different types of damages that may apply depending on your case. Without the representation of a skilled civil law attorney, you may be pressured into accepting terms that don’t cover important elements of your case. That means you may lose valuable compensation.

Here are some of the most common forms of damages in civil law cases.

Economic Damages

In many civil cases, the plaintiff has been financially affected by the defendant’s actions. For example, a plaintiff might have to pay for things like a new car in an accident, excessive medical bills as a result of medical malpractice, or property repairs in instances of damage. Plaintiffs may also be entitled to damages for a loss of income or health insurance benefits due to injury or the death of a loved one.

Non-Economic Damages

Other damages in civil cases are more difficult to put a price tag on but must still be addressed. Things like the death of a loved one, pain and suffering from an injury, or experiencing trauma or humiliation are considered non-economic damages. A skilled civil attorney is essential for calculating a tangible number for a plaintiff’s experiences that are difficult to quantify.

Punitive Damages

Unlike the other forms of damages, punitive damages are not directly related to the injuries or financial damages experienced by the plaintiff. These damages are meant to punish a person or entity so that they are less likely to repeat similar actions or negligence in the future. These types of damages are less common than compensatory damages and are usually assigned due to extreme actions or gross negligence.

What Are Some Common Types of Civil Litigation?

Every civil case is different, but many of them are due to common incidents like:

  • A physical injury is caused by an individual’s negligent or reckless actions (i.e., a car accident, dog bite, unmaintained property, medical mistakes, and more).
  • Property is damaged by another individual, and the plaintiff loses money due to the need to repair or replace it. 
  • Someone dies due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another party, and the family must pay medical bills and funeral expenses, and also loses the potential income provided by the decedent.
  • An individual’s personal rights are violated due to an illegal search or seizure or other police action.

What Does Civil Law Include?

Civil law involves any type of case that is not criminal in nature. It involves disputes between two or more parties, and in most cases, one is seeking financial compensation due to damages caused by the other. The nature of the case can vary, but many occur due to personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death. A civil case can either be resolved in a court of law or negotiated outside the court in the form of a settlement.

What Is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Case?

The common phrase of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” only applies to criminal law. In civil law, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means that he or she must show enough evidence to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant took a wrongful action or was negligent and caused damages to the plaintiff. This concept is known as a preponderance of evidence, and a seasoned civil law attorney is the best resource for determining if it is likely in your case.

How Does the Court Determine Liability?

To prove the other party was liable for your damages and receive compensation, you must prove that:

  • The other party owed you a duty of care to reasonably account for your or your property’s safety
  • The other party violated this duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly
  • This violation directly caused an incident
  • The incident resulted in damages

Proving liability can be extremely difficult and is a task best accomplished by an experienced civil law attorney.

What Is Tort Law?

A tort is an action or failure to act that causes harm and results in a civil case during which the court must determine liability. Thus, tort law applies to most civil law cases. The only exception to tort law is any case involving a legally binding contract. If an injured individual or party is attempting to seek compensation from another party in civil court, it is usually an example of tort law. Negligent torts involve a defendant who is being accused of negligence that caused the plaintiff’s damages. If the case involves an act of recklessness, it is usually considered an intentional tort.

How Long Do I Have To File My Civil Lawsuit?

In Arizona, most civil suits have a statute of limitations of two years from when an injury or property damage occurred. If a case is not filed within this time, it will likely be considered invalid. There are some exceptions to the two-year limit for medical malpractice cases, especially if a person did not immediately realize he or she was injured or sick.

Will My Case Go to Court?

Many times, a civil lawsuit never proceeds to formal litigation. In some situations, it makes more sense to negotiate a settlement before the case goes to court. This can help the plaintiff receive damages more quickly and can help both parties avoid a legal battle. If a case does go to court, it can take significantly longer, but damages may be positively impacted. A dedicated civil attorney can determine the best option for your case.

What Is Arbitration?

It’s normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed when you are facing a civil case. Working with an experienced Arizona civil law attorney can help you achieve peace of mind and regain control in this uncertain time. Schedule a consultation with Gillespie, Shields & Taylor to learn how our seasoned civil law team can help you with your civil case.

Your Civil Law Team

Our experienced attorneys take their civil cases very seriously. Whether you’ve been involved in an accident or are involved in tort litigation, we understand that involvement in legal matters can be overwhelming. It’s important that you be represented by a skilled and empathetic attorney that will advocate for your rights. Our attorneys are resolute and diligent in helping our clients overcome their legal challenges, whatever they may be.

mark shields phoenix and mesa attorney

Mark Shields

Partner

Because a family law issue is so important and so personal, it should be handled by someone who cares. Mark believes that being down to earth and an honest, approachable guy is just as important in the practice of law as it is in life in general.

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Jenny Jansch

Jenny Jansch

Attorney

Jenny Jansch was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a married mother of three children. She received her Bachelor of Arts cum laude, in Paralegal Studies from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. She received her law degree in 2006 from the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and received numerous awards for her legal writing and advocacy skills.

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John Foley

John Foley

Attorney

During my time in Arizona, I have been a civil litigator, dependency trial attorney and I worked a year for the Pinal County Attorney. For that period I was the supervisor of the Juvenile Delinquency Unit and worked in the Major Crimes Unit. Consult With John

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