A: A "civil lawsuit" is a formal proceeding filed in a court of law in which one seeks to right a wrong. In a civil lawsuit, one does not need to prove criminal wrongdoing. One also does not need to prove that the harm was intentionally caused. Civil lawsuits can arise from claims of negligence (or carelessness), breach of contract and a host of other legal questions. Most civil lawsuits involve the question of paying money damages.