Definition: Filing a Lawsuit

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:43 by admin
The Plaintiff, or person who has suffered an emotional, financial, or physical loss, will typically file what is referred to as a "complaint." Filing the complaint is synonymous with filing the lawsuit. By filing the complaint, the Plaintiff begins what is commonly called the "litigation." The complaint contains all of the allegations that the Plaintiff has against the Defendant or wrongdoer.

The Defendant files his "answer" in reply to the allegations in the complaint. Occasionally the Defendant also files a "counter-claim." The counter-claim contains allegations from the Defendant accusing the Plaintiff of some harmful action. By filing a counter-claim the Defendant is essentially alleging that the Plaintiff is the one to blame, not the Defendant.

So to review, the complaint is just that, it is the Plaintiffs opportunity to complain against the Defendant. In the answer, the Defendant indeed answers the Plaintiffs allegations usually by denying them. The counter-claim is the Defendants version of the Plaintiffs complaint. That is, instead of responding to the Plaintiffs allegations (as the Defendant does in his answer), the Defendant sets forth his own allegations against the Plaintiff. These documents, and sometimes others, are called "the pleadings."

There are various time limits which come into play regarding filing and responding to complaints, answers, counter-claims, and other court filings. Perhaps most importantly from the Plaintiff
s perspective is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies from state to state and requires the Plaintiff to sue the Defendant within a certain amount of time (set forth in the statute or law of that particular state). If the Plaintiff misses the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations, the Plaintiff''s suit will be forever barred and the Defendant will never be held accountable. As is apparent, a potential Plaintiff must be very vigilant regarding theĀ statute of limitations.

See Also

  1. What is a Lawsuit
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