Understanding Car Accident Claims

5 Basic Lawsuit Terms You'll Encounter In A Personal Injury Lawsuit Case

by Lois Gibson

If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit case, you are going to encounter a host of terms that you don't usually encounter in your day to day life. Knowing these terms will help you better understand what is happening with your case when you talk with your attorney or law firm.


When you are the person who files a lawsuit, you re the plaintiff. The plaintiff is the person or parties that file the lawsuit. Throughout the court proceeding, you will be referred to as the plaintiff.


The party that you bring your lawsuit against is the defendant. In a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant is the person or the entity that you, the plaintiff, are claiming is responsible for the injuries that you sustained. In a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant can be more than one individual. For example, if you were involved in a multi-car accident, the defendant could be all the other drivers involved. Or if you were involved in an accident with a trucker, the defendant could be the actual truck driver, the trucking company, the auto repair company for the trucking company, among other defendants.

When your claim is against multiple defendants, it is up to your attorney to prove the responsibility, as well as the degree of responsibility, of each defendant in your injuries. If you lack evidence to prove that all the defendants played a role in your injuries, it is often better to drop some of the defendants and to progress against the defendants that you have the strongest case against.


It may seem a little silly, but the personal injury lawsuit that you file with the court actually has a much simpler legal name, a complaint. The paperwork that you file with the courts to start the personal injury lawsuit process is called a complaint. Through the court proceedings, your lawsuit will be referred to as a complaint, not a lawsuit.

Prayer for Relief

When you file your personal injury lawsuit, in your written complaint, you are required to state how much money you are seeking for your personal injuries. The amount of money that you are seeking for your personal injuries is often referred to your demands or compensation. However, the legal term for the monetary compensation that you are seeking is actually a prayer for relief.


When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant is notified of your legal complaint and prayer for relief against them. The defendant is then given a certain amount of time to respond to your complaint. This response is called an answer. In the answer, the defendant has to acknowledge that they received the complaint and what their position is. This is one of the many chances that the defendant has to try to settle the complaint, or more forward with the litigation process.

Understanding the five terms above will help you better understand the process of your personal injury lawsuit. Many of the terms above have different common names, for example most people know a complaint as a lawsuit, and a prayer for relief as a demand for compensation. Knowing the legal terms, instead of the common terms, will help you better understand what is happening with your personal injury lawsuit as you work with your attorney.