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Plaintiff Meaning & Legal Definition

In a lawsuit, the plaintiff is the party who alleges wrongdoing by another and seeks a legal remedy for damages. The party accused is the defendant. A plaintiff’s goal is to win a court order for damages to compensate them for the harm they suffered as a result of the defendant’s alleged wrongdoing. In most lawsuits, attorneys represent both the plaintiff and the defendant.

How Does a Plaintiff Initiate a Lawsuit?

The precise method for initiating a lawsuit can vary between jurisdictions and based on the type of allegations. Typically, the plaintiff begins a lawsuit by filing a formal complaint. In the complaint, the plaintiff, usually through an attorney, sets forth the alleged wrongdoings by the defendant, as well as the damages incurred by the plaintiff because of those wrongful acts.

The official proceedings cannot begin, however, until the defendant receives notice of the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s attorney gives notice by delivering a copy of the complaint, along with a summons to appear in court, to the defendant. Usually someone, called a process server, carries out this duty. The process server attempts to serve papers to the defendant by showing up at their home or place of business.

What if the Defendant Avoids the Process Server?

Some defendants think that if they successfully duck the process server they can avoid a lawsuit. As a result, they will not answer their door, and if encountered by the process server in a public place, they will claim to be someone else. But a defendant cannot forestall a lawsuit forever by avoiding the process server.

For hard-to-serve defendants, plaintiffs have additional options. They can leave a copy of the complaint and summons with another competent adult or mail it, return receipt requested, to the defendant’s home or business. In desperate situations, some jurisdictions even allow plaintiffs to serve defendants by publication—in other words, printing the complaint and summons in a local newspaper.

In short, plaintiffs have many ways to initiate a lawsuit and force the defendant to appear, even if the defendant is elusive or attempts to get out of it.

What Happens When the Plaintiff Wins a Lawsuit?

If the court sides with the plaintiff in a lawsuit, it will issue a judgment for damages. In other words, it will demand that the defendant compensate the plaintiff for the economic and non-economic losses suffered because of the defendant’s wrongdoing. Court orders often enforce judgments, which give the defendant a set time in which to pay the plaintiff and lay out the terms for the completion of this payment.

To Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Lawyer From Newsome Melton, Call 888-808-5977 Today

The lawyers at Newsome Melton can help you win compensation if you suffered harm because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 888-808-5977.

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Product Liability Lawyer - Newsome Melton

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