Lawsuit: Legal Definition

A lawsuit is a complaint brought by a party that alleges harm or loss by another party. The party bringing the lawsuit, called the “plaintiff,” must prove the allegations listed in a lawsuit against the party being sued, called the “defendant.” A lawsuit can have multiple plaintiffs and defendants.

A lawsuit also contains a plaintiff’s petition to the court to award “damages,” which may include monetary compensation or some other type of relief from the defendant that allegedly caused harm.

Components of a Lawsuit

Most lawsuits have the following basic components:

Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Information

A lawsuit must have names and the county of residence for the plaintiff and defendant. When a plaintiff or defendant is a business entity, the lawsuit usually lists the location of the company’s headquarters.

Plaintiff’s Allegations

A lawsuit must state the plaintiff’s versions of the facts and how the defendant caused harm. The facts include:

  • When and where the alleged harm occurred.
  • What caused the harm.
  • How the alleged harm occurred.
  • In what way the defendant is responsible for the harm.

Court Venue and Jurisdiction

A lawsuit should state which county, city, state or federal court has jurisdiction over the matter. The amount of compensation sought by the plaintiff also determines in what court the lawsuit is filed.

Request for Damages

A lawsuit states the plaintiff’s specific request for damages. These damages may include monetary compensation, attorneys’ fees, court fees, and other types of restitution.

Request for Jury Trial

A plaintiff may ask the court for a jury trial to resolve the matter.

Notifying the Defendant

After filing a lawsuit, a plaintiff must formally notify the defendant about the complaint. A plaintiff can hire a third party, called a “process server,” to deliver the lawsuit to the defendant.

However the plaintiff chooses to notify the defendant, the server must provide proof that the lawsuit was served on the defendant.

The Defendant’s Response

The defendant has a limited amount of time to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations in the complaint. The defendant can also file a counterclaim against the plaintiff and seek damages for harm done by the plaintiff.

Filing a Lawsuit With or Without an Attorney

A plaintiff does not need a lawyer to prepare and file a lawsuit. For example, if you want to sue a defendant in small claims court for only $5,000, a plaintiff may choose to handle the case without a lawyer.

However, when a lawsuit involves serious physical injury, property damage, a business claim, or wrongful death, plaintiffs and defendants may choose to hire a lawyer.

Contact the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC Today

If you have suffered an injury and want to seek remedy through a lawsuit, we can help.  At the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, we prepare lawsuits, collect evidence that supports the allegations, and communicate with other parties on our client’s behalf.

We protect your legal interests throughout the lawsuit process.

Call us now at 865-546-1111 for a free consultation.