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Definition - What does Plaintiff mean?

The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is the person who files suit against the defendant. In civil cases the plaintiff is claiming they have been injured or suffered loss due to the actions of the defendant. If the plaintiff successfully wins their claim they can be awarded compensation for their loss including wage replacement, paid medical expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering.

To file a lawsuit the plaintiff must first file their complaint with the court. The complaint makes allegations or statements against the defendant.

To win the personal injury claim the plaintiff must prove allegations, generally through a preponderance of evidence. If the plaintiff wins their claim they may be awarded recovery or money, which can be used to make them whole or restore them to their previous state prior to their injury or loss.

Plaintiffs may file civil claims for a variety of cases including medical malpractice, car accidents, breach of contract, slander or defamation, premise liability claims, and workers' compensation injuries.

Should the plaintiff take their case to court?

In our litigious society everyone seems ready to sue, but the truth of the matter is some disputes can be settled over a cup of coffee. Before filing a claim against another person the first step is to try to discuss your conflict with them. If your child is injured at a friend's house and you need help paying for the medical costs, talk to your neighbor.

If talking to the defendant does not offer a reasonable solution it might be time to decide if you need to file an injury claim. Many injury claims are settled in small claims court. Other cases can be settled before filing a lawsuit. In many cases, however, it is a good idea to discuss your case with an injury lawyer, especially if you are negotiating a settlement with an insurance company. In rare cases, negotiations might fail and you may have to file a lawsuit.

How do you know if you need to file a lawsuit?

Unfortunately, whether or not to settle or file a lawsuit can be one of the most important decisions you will make for your injury claim. The good news for many plaintiffs is that up to 90% of disputes are settled through negotiations before fighting a protracted legal battle in court.

Questions to ask before deciding to go to trial

If you, as the plaintiff, decide to take a case to court you will need to consider several factors:

  •  How likely are you to win at trial?
  • How much will it cost to litigate your personal injury case?
  • How long will your case take to finish and how soon will you be paid?
  • How likely is the defendant to appeal the case if they lose at trial?

Do not file a lawsuit without first talking to an injury lawyer and having the answers to these questions.

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