What is a Lawsuit?

A lawsuit is a legal action that one party (called the plaintiff) brings against another party (called the defendant) to be decided in court. It can be either a civil case or a criminal case. Lawsuits follow certain rules of procedure that are governed by statutory law, case law, and constitutional provisions. Litigants (people involved in a lawsuit) must understand these rules and comply with them or have competent counsel to do so for them.

When a person is sued, they usually file a Summons and Complaint with the court. These forms tell the story of what happened and why the plaintiff is suing. They also ask the court to grant them what they are seeking in the case. A judge usually reviews these papers before granting the request or dismissing the complaint.

It takes time to get through a lawsuit. There are deadlines that must be met and procedures that must be followed or you could lose the case or have to pay the other side’s fees and costs. It’s important to talk with an attorney before deciding to file a lawsuit and to discuss what kind of case you have, what needs to be in the complaint, and what you must prove to win your claim or defense.

When a person wins a lawsuit, they are awarded damages which can cover past losses and future expenses. The plaintiff may also have a claim for what the court calls equitable relief which can be orders to do or not do specific things.

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