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What Is a Plaintiff?

The plaintiff is the one claiming wrongdoing in a civil suit.
A courthouse.
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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2014
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In a civil action, a plaintiff is a person who has been harmed in some way and is seeking compensation. The harm may take the form of a financial loss or physical injuries. A company may also start a lawsuit to recover damages for a loss. In some cases, the party making the claim is known as the complainant or the claimant.

Situations in which a person would become a plaintiff include cases where someone has been injured in a motor vehicle accident. If the injured party lives in a jurisdiction where he or she has the right to sue, he or she may be able to receive a monetary payment from the driver or his or her insurance company to compensate for lost wages and medical expenses. The injured person may also be entitled to a payment for pain and suffering.

A person may also become a plaintiff when he or she is seeking compensation for personal injuries caused by faulty products or medical malpractice. Legal actions may also be started to recover unpaid debts or in cases of alleged fraud. Family members might seek damages in a case of wrongful death.

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When a person feels that he or she has been wronged and is looking for compensation, it is usually wise to consult a plaintiff attorney. These trained legal specialists work on behalf of clients to recover monetary damages. The attorney provides appropriate legal advice and attempts to negotiate the best possible settlement of the legal dispute for his or her client.

The attorney will prepare legal documents that set out the plaintiff's claim against the other party or parties. He or she will also arrange to have the papers served so that the person or company being sued is aware of the claim being made against them. It's not enough for the wronged party to make allegations that they have suffered the loss. He must also have evidence to support the claim being made or he will not receive money for the claim.

In cases where it isn't possible to settle the claim without going to court, the plaintiff attorney takes charge of the proceedings. The attorney presents the claimant's case first and the other party is given the opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations. If the judge determines that the wronged party is entitled to damages, he or she will enter a judgment for the plaintiff. This document states how much the defendant is required to pay to compensate the injured party.

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Discuss this Article

anon265421
Post 5

As a non lawyer, I have to ask who wrote the article? Hopefully not a lawyer as in "a plaintiff is someone who has been harmed in some way and is seeking compensation". I would guess that a more accurate description of a plaintiff is someone who initiates or proposes a lawsuit and is alleging that they have been harmed in some way. They go on to say that harm is defined by either financial or physical loss.

I think they have forgotten that emotional trauma and damage also often receives compensatory settlements. Just because you have a law degree does not correlate to good, competent legal representation and although I would agree that most should not defend themselves, I have personally met and talked to some lawyers who make me feel more confident defending myself rather than them defending me.

jcraig
Post 4

Anytime I hear someone representing themself in a civil case and seeking damages from someone I roll my eyes. The average person cannot comprehend the legal system to the point that they would expect to prove that someone is guilty except in rare instances.

Anyone seeking damages from someone needs to consult an attorney that specializes in the type of case. Usually these do not even go to trial and instead are settled outside of court. If someone is seeking damages from someone they need to go this route and consult an attorney. Simply having legal representation will usually be enough to settle the case instead of actually going to trial.

Emilski
Post 3

@cardsfan27 - you are completely right. I have seen people represent themselves in cases and it becomes comical sometimes. I once saw one guy represent himself in a criminal case and you could almost play a type of drinking game with how many times I heard the word "object" from the prosecution or how many times he did something awkward that no lawyer, no matter how bad, would ever do.

The legal system is very complicated and very difficult for an average person to understand. Simply reading up on the legal system will not prepare anyone to represent themselves in a courtroom especially when they are the plaintiff, seeking damages, where they have to prove that the defendant is guilty and liable beyond a reasonable doubt.

cardsfan27
Post 2

Most people do not understand how difficult it is to represent yourself in a trial of any form. You can tell right away when seeing someone represent themself the differences between an educated lawyer and someone who has simply read up on law. That is why it is always important to hire a lawyer that is knowledgeable about the legal system and specifies in the type of case that the client will be participating in.

titans62
Post 1

The United States Judicial system is based upon the assumption that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That is why it is important for someone seeking damages to consult a plaintiff lawyer, who will make all the arrangements and also make sure that they have appropriate representation for their case.

Without a plaintiff lawyer, the plaintiff may have very bad representation or even have to represent themself, which then turns into a he said she said type of trial that will go nowhere.

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