Lawsuit for Personal Injury: Initial Documents for the Court

The specifications or pleadings refer to the legal papers processed in a court of laws. The processing of legal papers in court marks the beginning of a lawsuit. Here are some terms you should be familiar with. The exact term may vary from state to state. Personal Injury Lawsuit

Petition and Processing a claim, Lawsuit for Personal Injury

The petition is also commonly referred to as the complaint. A civil suit typically begins formally with the processing of a legal document known as a complaint. The primary purposes of the complaint are to give the accused notice and inform the person or organization about the nature and basic facts of the case. A complaint affirms the claim (s) against the defendant, the basis on which the court can exercise jurisdiction over the case, the basic facts, and the particular solution sought (which need not be specified in dollar amounts but rather may well indicate the type of damages requested, such as damages and real). It is the formal statement of all general allegations of injuries that the plaintiff seeks to prove were caused by the defendant.

The complaint will also contain a statement of the jurisdiction of the court in the matter. It also constitutes a formal request to the court to address itself again in accordance with the law in the form of a trial for the plaintiff. There will be a demand for settlement, usually monetary damages for a specific amount.

Summons and Notification

Once the complaint has been processed, the clerk of the court will issue a subpoena signed with the seal and name of the court. A subpoena lists all the parties in the lawsuit and the court of jurisdiction in which the case will be tried. Inform the defendant that he must respond to the complaint within a specific period of time. Appoint the accused to come forward and defend himself.

A copy of the complaint and subpoena is delivered to the defendant. This is the judicial notice. The court must have proof that the defendant has been legally and officially notified of the claim and of the defendant's need to answer it. Only then will he exercise jurisdiction over the accused. The judicial notice also provides the court with personal jurisdiction over the named defendant. The complaint and summons must be delivered together in person by a person who is not a party to the complaint and who is at least 18 years of age. The notice may also be made under certain conditions by a United States Marshal, substitute marshal, or other person specially designated by the court for that purpose. The personal delivery (ie, in hand) to the named defendant is known as actual notification. It is usually not necessary for the accused to be the one who receives as long as a "person of adequate age and discretion" within the dwelling receives the copy.


The next step typically given in a civil lawsuit is the processing of the response by the defendant. According to federal rules, a defendant generally has 20 days from the date of the notice to process a response or other appropriate pleading or allegation. If the defendant is in the United States or is a federal official or agency, the maximum time for a response is 60 days. Similar time restrictions apply in most state courts, although periods vary between states. In most states, the defendant has 30 days to respond to the claim.

The defendant has a range of options to respond to the plaintiff's claim. These options are usually not mutually exclusive and therefore can be used alternatively or in combination. The primary purpose of the response, also called the defendant's responsive sheet, is to counteract the plaintiff's allegations. In other words, the defendant should demonstrate why the plaintiff should not win. The defendant may also engage in several denials, plead an affirmative defense, and even file a counterclaim, seeking damages from the plaintiff or other individuals or entities. The defendant can also promote a motion to reject based on some of the defenses.


The counterclaim is simply a claim made by the defendant against the plaintiff, who, if approved, could cancel or reduce the amount of damages to which the plaintiff could be entitled. The counterclaims can be processed with the answer or as a separate document.

Answer to the Counterclaim

If a counterclaim is processed, it is generally required that the plaintiff respond in the same way that any other defendant would have to do so against a claim and therefore must follow the usual rules of procedure.

Cross Claim

Claims or cross-claims may arise when there are multiple defendants or claimants in a lawsuit, and two or more of them have their own disputes that arise from the same occurrence that resulted in the claim. For example, in an accident involving many vehicles, if Tom and Harry are being sued by Jack, Harry can process a cross-claim against Tom in the same lawsuit as Jack.

Response to the Cross Claim

The person against whom the cross-claim is made must respond to the claim or cross-claim. The answer is in the same format as the response to a complaint.

Third party complaint

The accused may transfer his responsibility to another party or person. In such cases, the defendant may file a third party complaint against said party or person and said party or person must become a party to the complaint. The contents of the claims by third parties are similar to the complaint.

Response to a third party claim

The person or party against whom a claim is made by third parties must respond to the cross-claim. The response is made in the same format for the response to a complaint.

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