What is a “Plaintiff” in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Richard Richardson with Siegal & Richardson.
“Plaintiff” is a legal term referring to the person who files a claim against someone else in civil court. In criminal court this role is handled by the prosecutor representing the state or federal government rather than the victim. In a civil personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is the person who has been allegedly victimized by the actions of the opposing party, or the “defendant”. In the case of a class action lawsuit, one or more plaintiffs may represent the broader class of plaintiffs on the whole.
Whenever someone is harmed due to the negligence or intentional conduct of another party, they may be eligible to file a lawsuit.
The first step to filing a claim or lawsuit is to file a letter of complaint and a summons with the appropriate court. These documents will describe the situation in which the harm occurred, who the plaintiff believes is liable for their harm, why the defendant’s conduct was a violation of their legal obligation, as well as the damages the plaintiff suffered as a direct result of the defendant’s actions. These documents must then be approved by a judge for the case to move forward; if the lawsuit is dismissed, it may be possible to file an appeal to have the case examined once more.
Damages that can be sought by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit include but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Impairment of earning capacity
- Lifecare expenses
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of care and companionship
- Wrongful death
- Funeral expenses
- Punitive damages
If you suspect you are eligible to file a personal injury claim, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
Every case is subject to its own statute of limitations or deadline, after which the plaintiff is no longer eligible to pursue damages in court. This is one of the many reasons it’s important to take timely action if you have suffered physically, mentally, and/or financially due to the negligent or intentional conduct of another party. If the negligent conduct of another party resulted in physical harm or injury, there is a good chance the case may be represented by a personal injury attorney.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients only pay the lawyer if and when their case is won. It’s also important to remember that valuable evidence tends to disperse with time, so the longer a plaintiff waits to seek legal help the more likely it is that evidence will disappear or be harder to come by.
Common civil personal injury lawsuits include:
- Motor vehicle accident lawsuits
- Medical malpractice lawsuits
- Product liability lawsuits
- Premises liability lawsuits
- Pedestrian and bike accident lawsuits
- Boat accident lawsuits
- Workplace accident lawsuits
- Insurance bad faith lawsuits
- Nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits
- Wrongful death lawsuits
To learn more about the role a plaintiff plays in their own lawsuit, or to discuss your eligibility to file a claim, reach out to a civil lawsuit attorney in your area.