What is the process of filling a lawsuit?

Lawyers Working On Case

Filing the Complaint

The complaint is the framework of the case against the one who harmed another person, and it is the first document to be filed. The people who are part of the lawsuit will be named in this document. It also explains what the plaintiff is claiming and lists the reasons that the claims are being made. A portion of the complaint will be devoted to the “demand for judgment.” This is where the plaintiff can inform the judge how she hopes the judge will respond to the case.

A complaint is filed so that the defendant learns the facts of the case and the legal bases for the plaintiff’s claims.

The Summons

The court where the case will be heard sends the defendant a summons that informs him that the plaintiff has filed a lawsuit against him. This document gives the defendant a set period of time to answer the summons or request that the lawsuit be dismissed. The document will state what the consequences will be if the defendant fails to answer the summons in a timely fashion.

The defendant has been “served” after he is identified and given the complaint and the summons.

The Answer

The document that the defendant submits in response to the summons is called the “answer,” and it addresses each paragraph individually. For each paragraph, the defendant will either state “admitted,” “denied” or “insufficient knowledge to admit or deny.” The affirmative defenses for why the defendant is not responsible for the plaintiff’s damages may also be offered in this document.

The Counterclaim

The defendant may want to make a claim against the plaintiff as well. If the complaint relates to the incident referred to in the summons, the defendant can list it in the section labeled “counterclaims.”

The Reply to the Counterclaim

The plaintiff will have the right to file a “reply” in response to the counterclaim. This time, the plaintiff will respond with “admit,” “deny” or lack information to admit or deny. The plaintiff may also assert defenses at this point.


Cross-claims occur when there is more than one defendant or plaintiff. If the other defendants or plaintiffs have their own complaints, they are free to list them under cross-claims.

The Answer to the Cross-Claim

If someone is sued in a cross-claim, she will file an answer to the cross-claim like the one described above.

The Third-Party Complaint

The defendant may have a legal reason to hold another person responsible for the incident. One example is when a third party signed a contract in which he promised to pay the defendant in the event that the defendant is found liable in a lawsuit. The defendant may file a third-party complaint in this instance. This complaint gives the reasons for the defendant’s claims and asks for compensation from the third party.

The Answer to the Third-Party Complaint

The person who is sued in a third-party complaint will answer the complaint in a manner that is similar to the one filed after the first complaint.