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individual. People who commit crimes are considered to have harmed society as a whole and not just an individual member of that society. For many reasons, which we will not study, every society has prevented individuals from being involved in criminal matters except possibly as a witness. All criminal lawsuits or matters are under the control of the government, usually through an agency called the District Attorney or similar name. The victim of a crime cannot bring a criminal action, the victim can only make a criminal complaint. The government, through the office of the District Attorney, decides whether to prosecute the matter. Punishments for crimes can include jail time, prison time, fines, and/or community service.It has become more common in recent decades for criminal courts to award some damages to a victim of a crime, however, these are usually much less than the amount awarded in a civil matter (discussed below). Of course, it is usually difficult, if not impossible, to collect damages from a person in jail, and the victim of a crime usually has no way of obtaining any compensation for his/her injuries.The crimes of embezzlement and theft are the crimes most likely to occur on a construction project. Embezzlement is generally defined as the misappropriation of the property of a principal or employer. Theft or larceny is the wrongful taking of the property of another. Criminal law will not be studied in this class. It is here only because most students are familiar with criminal law but have never heard of civil law even though civil law is the law that controls most business behavior.Civil Law35
Civil Law27Civil lawis the broad area of law dealing with all disputes or injuries between people or businesses. In a civil lawsuit, Person A sues Person B claiming Person B injured Person A. Person A is trying to get money, usually, from Person B. People or businesses can file civil lawsuits against each otherif they believe they have been injured by someone and seek a court order that the person who injured them pay them money. People do not go to jail or prison for the violation of civil law; they just have to pay others money. Civil law is frequently divided into the three broad categories of tort, contract, and property law. Tort lawis accident or injury law and the most common tort is negligence. A tortis any injury that is not related to a contract. Contract lawis the law that governs the enforceability of contracts. Property lawisthe law that governs the ownership and transfer of different types of property such as land, cars, patents, and other types of property.Tort (Injury) LawThe law imposes certain duties or obligations upon entities dealing with each other in a society. A violation of one of these legally imposed duties is a tortand the law can require the tortfeasor, the personwho violated the duty, to compensate the injured party. The most common tort is negligence, which is the duty required by law, to act reasonably in all interactions with others. If a party does an unreasonable act