What Is a Lawsuit?


A lawsuit is a civil court proceeding in which one or more parties file an action against another. Whether it’s in a civil or criminal court, a lawsuit demands a legal or equitable remedy from the court. There are many types of lawsuits, including class actions and personal injury claims. These cases can involve any number of parties, including a business owner, a consumer, or an employee.

A lawsuit begins with a complaint or summons served on a defendant. The complaint outlines the alleged damage the defendant has caused. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant must file an answer within 20 days. This document will admit or deny the plaintiff’s allegations and state any defenses that the defendant may have.

During trial, each side presents witnesses and evidence. A judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is legally liable for the damages or injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Once a decision is reached, the plaintiff or defendant may appeal the decision. An unsatisfied party may ask for a second or third appellate review of the case. The first document filed with the court is the “complaint.” It outlines the basis of the lawsuit, the damages sought, and any other relief the plaintiff seeks. The plaintiff may seek monetary damages or an “equitable remedy” (which is non-monetary).

A lawsuit can also result from an agreement between the parties. Many times, a settlement can be reached without the need for a lawsuit. However, many lawsuits do end up in court, so a settlement can be a better option for the parties in the long run. Often, a settlement agreement involves payment to one or both parties.

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