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Civil Investigation

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Civil Investigation

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What is Civil Investigation?

To understand civil investigation, we must first look into the two areas that comprise the law – civil and criminal. Criminal law handles cases filed by the state and/or government against an individual or business for a crime that was allegedly committed. On the other hand, civil law deals specifically with cases that involve two or more parties, with one party suing the other to obtain compensation for damages.

For example, John and Martin got into a vehicular accident. John lost control of his car and it swerved right into Martin’s. To obtain compensation for damages that he and his vehicle sustained during the accident, Martin sued John. Based on the circumstances, their case will be tried in a civil court.

This is where civil investigation becomes useful. Through civil investigations, vital information needed for the trial is uncovered and gathered. In the case of John and Martin, a civil investigation will be utilized to bring together evidences that is essential to their rial.

Civil Law:

There are two areas of the law as it pertains to private citizens: civil and criminal. Civil law deals specifically with areas that involve relationships between private citizens. While jurisprudence varies from county to county and state to state, civil law, in general, allows individuals or parties to sue one another for damages inflicted. The individual or party suing is  the plaintiff and the person or party being sued is the defendant.

Civil law falls into three basic categories:

  • Contracts- a contract is broken resulting in one party having the legal right to sue the other for damages inflicted.
  • Torts- one party has caused harm to another party, such as in the case of accidents; the injured party may pursue payment for damages.
  • Property Law- one landowner seeks recourse for violations of legal rights held for the land owned.

In civil cases, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. Some very common uses for private investigators in civil matters are as follows:

  • Accident Investigation in Vehicular Accidents
  • Arson Investigation
  • Asset Search Investigation
  • Background Investigation

These lawsuits may or may not have some connection to a criminal matter and/or criminal charges.

What Happens During Civil Investigation?

Each private investigator has his or her own unique strategy on how to approach a civil investigation. However, a typical civil investigation starts with a careful analysis of the case. A private investigator meets with the individual or business initiating the civil investigation to discuss the purpose of the investigation as well as how they should proceed. The investigator will also negotiates the budget for the civil investigation in question.

Once the private investigator and the initiating party have agreed upon their plans and budget, the investigator then approaches the case using different investigative techniques to gather the information needed for the civil case. Private investigators typically employ these methods to amass evidence:

  •    Background checks

  •    Forensic or medical investigations

  •    Surveillance

  •    Witness examinations.

After the investigator has gathered all the evidence that he/she feels is necessary, the investigator will meet up with the initiating party again to present the information that was uncovered during the investigation. In some cases, an investigator is asked to publish an official report of their findings or even be asked to serve as a witness during the trial.

Who Can Hire a Private Investigator?

In a civil court case, the party that is suing is deemed the plaintiff. The party being sued is deemed the defendant. The fact of the matter is, it does not matter which side the initiating party is on. Either side may hire a private investigator to benefit themselves.

Here are the a few common civil cases wherein a private investigator would most likely be  hired to gather information:


  • Accident Investigation (Vehicular Investigation)

  • Arson Investigation (To determine cause of fire)

  • Asset Search Investigation

  • Background Investigation

What You can Expect?

A private investigator will want to discuss your situation with you to determine the best plan of action for your specific area of need. Then, he or she will discuss payment and the budget you have to work with. Once this is determined, the investigator will decide better how to handle your case and what he or she can do for you. Once the details have been decided on, he or she will go to work and return to you with the results. Private investigators can appear as a witness in court for you or give formal statements. 

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