What is a Lawsuit?


A lawsuit is a civil legal action brought by one person or entity (the plaintiff) against another person or entity (the defendant), to be decided in court. The purpose of a lawsuit is to obtain some type of remedy, which may include compensation (monetary damages), injunctions, or other equitable relief.

The first step in a lawsuit is filing a complaint. The complaint is a document that states the facts of the case and the legal claims being pursued. The complaint must be drafted well and comply with all federal, state, and local rules of civil procedure. It must also contain allegations that demonstrate that the court has subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction to adjudicate the legal claims in the lawsuit.

The complaint must be accompanied by any supporting documents and evidence. This includes written witness statements (depositions) and other written discovery requests, such as interrogatories. The complaint must also clearly and concisely state each legal claim and request for remedy (e.g., monetary damages and/or an injunction) in a manner that is easily understood by a layperson.

If a lawsuit goes to trial, the plaintiffs and defendants will present evidence at a court-supervised hearing with a judge or jury. The judge or jury will then decide the outcome of the case. If the plaintiff wins, the court will enter a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs ordering the defendant to do or not do certain things. Typically, the defendant will have insurance that covers the amount of the judgment. In some cases, however, the defendant will have no insurance and cannot be made to pay a judgment.

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