There are two primary parties in a personal injury lawsuit: the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff is the person who has suffered an injury and is filing the lawsuit. The defendant is the person being sued for damages.
Personal Injury Plaintiffs
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is the person who has suffered an injury. Let’s say that you were involved in a Los Angeles motorcycle accident and suffered an injury. In California, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for to recover damages from the person who is at fault. When you file the claim for damages, you become the plaintiff.
Bystanders and Family Members
Interestingly, you do not necessarily have to be the person who was directly injured in an accident. If you witness a horrific crash or are related to someone who is killed in an accident, you may be able to recover damages for your pain and loss. Bystanders can file claims for emotional distress, while family members can pursue a claim for wrongful death.
What Does a Have to Plaintiff Do?
When you are a plaintiff in a lawsuit, you have the obligation to prove that another person’s actions caused you to suffer harm. In civil lawsuits, you must be able to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. This basically means that you can show that your argument is more likely true than not.
How do you satisfy your burden of proof? Your lawsuit will be based on a specific wrong. For example, a car accident lawsuit would probably be based on negligence. You would be required to prove each of the elements of negligence (duty, breach, causation, harm).
Personal Injury Defendants
Defendants are those individuals who are being sued for monetary damages. In California, more than one person can be named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. Each defendant can be held financially responsible for damages to the degree they contributed to an accident or injury.
What Can a Defendant Do?
If you are named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, you must contest the allegations that have been made. If you do not respond to a civil complaint and summons, default judgment will be entered for the plaintiff. This means that they will win their case simply because you didn’t file an answer. It is always important to respond to legal documents that are lawfully served.
Assert a Defense
Just because you are named as a defendant in a lawsuit does not mean that you are responsible for another person’s injuries. The plaintiff must be able to prove their argument by a preponderance of the evidence. You have the right to defend yourself, present evidence in support of your case, and call witnesses to contradict the plaintiff’s story.
Countersue for Damages
If you were injured in the accident, you may also have the right to countersue the plaintiff. Under California law, anyone who is responsible for an accident and/or injuries can be held responsible for damages. This includes plaintiffs who file personal injury lawsuits. If you are successful, you may be able to limit the award of damages the plaintiff can recover and even get a bit of relief, yourself.
Injured? Call an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Have you been injured in a Los Angeles accident? You may be entitled to compensation from the person who caused your crash. Call the personal injury attorneys at Citywide Law Group to learn about the benefits of filing a civil lawsuit for damages.
We have over 17 years of experience handling all personal injury matters in Los Angeles. During this time, we have successfully recovered millions in damages for our clients. Call us today to find out how we can help you, too. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to schedule an appointment today.