How a Lawsuit Works


In civil law, a lawsuit is the action of one party (the plaintiff) against another party (the defendant) seeking restitution for some kind of harm caused by an act or failure to act on the part of the defendant. These lawsuits can involve anything from family legal affairs to corporate contract disputes.

Complaint and Summons: In some jurisdictions, a lawsuit begins when the plaintiff properly serves a summons and complaint upon the defendant. In most other jurisdictions, a suit can only be initiated when one or more plaintiffs file a lawsuit in court.

Answer: Once the complaint is served, the defendant must respond to it by filing an answer in court within the time permitted. The answer must address each allegation made in the complaint. The defendant may choose to admit, deny, or plead insufficient knowledge to admit or deny each allegation.

A defendant can also raise defenses that prevent a plaintiff from being awarded any damages or other relief. These defenses are called “affirmative defenses.”

Mediation: The plaintiff and defendant usually try to settle their case without going to trial. In mediation, the plaintiff and defendant meet with a neutral third party who helps them sort out their claims and make a recommendation to the court about how the case should proceed.

If you decide to sue, find a lawyer who has a lot of experience with this type of case. This will help you avoid making a mistake that could cost you more in the long run.

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