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A Basic Overview of How Lawsuits Work

Last updated 7 years ago

Whether you were injured due to the negligence of another or you are being denied compensation after an accident, hiring a criminal defense lawyer or personal injury lawyer may be your best bet. Before you contact a criminal attorney, it is important that you understand how lawsuits work.

Terms to Know

Take the time to research legal terms relevant to your claim. Some basic terms to know include:

            Plaintiff: Individual filing the lawsuit

            Defendant: Party being sued

            Summons: Legal document calling you into court

            Complaint: Written documentation regarding plaintiff’s claim

Filing Process

The first step in filing a lawsuit is completing a written complaint. This document should include the basic facts of the case, names of the individuals involved, legal theory to back up your claim, and a clear outline of your monetary expectations.

Defendant’s Response

The defendant is required to respond to the complaint within 20-30 days with their own responsive pleadings. This is the defendant’s opportunity to point out technical problems with the complaint, additional names of individuals involved, or even completely deny the claim. In other words, this is the defendant’s opportunity to defend themselves.


The defendant may also answer the complaint in the form of a motion, or request for court ruling. The opposing party may file a request for the judge to dismiss or deny this motion if:

  • Court lacks subject matter or personal jurisdiction for case.
  • Court is improper venue for case.
  • Not enough legally sufficient information for mover’s request for the motion.

In some cases, the defendant may also answer the complaint in the form of a countersuit against the plaintiff.

Negotiating a Settlement

Once your claim goes to court, your defense attorney will draft a formal settlement offer to the defendant. The judge will make the final decision in the event that the plaintiff and defendant are unable to negotiate the settlement offer outside of court.

Filing a personal injury claim? Family law attorneys with Blumberg and Associates provide the legal representation for your needs. For practice areas, attorney profiles, locations, or to schedule a consultation, visit our website today!


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.


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