LegalYou: Pleadings

Everything is a process. Losing weight, buying a pet, besieging a castle. A civil court case is no exception and it’s important to know what these processes are before heading into the courtroom because knowing is half the battle.

The other half is well the battle itself. So let’s start at the beginning of the case and explain your pleadings.

Pleadings are the formal written statement submitted at the opening of a court case.

The first step is the plaintiff, the person suing or accusing, submitting a complaint. This is what officially starts the case itself, like the kickoff in football.

The complaint is a statement of the plaintiff’s cause. Basically their whole reason for bringing the defendant to court. They then ask for relief or damages as a result. Now comes the defendants turn, the person being sued or accused. they answer with, you guessed it, the answer, official term. Here the defendant either admits or denies the facts stated in the complaint, going on to give any reason why the plaintive shouldn’t win this case.

That’s not all the defendant can do however. The defendant can also claim or alleged, as the lawyers like to call it, that certain Affirmative Defenses apply. Be sure to see the LegalYou video on Affirmative Defenses to learn more about these.

Meanwhile, the defendant can also make a counterclaim which essentially turns the tables on the plaintiff. Here the defendant claims they are in fact the ones that have been wronged seeking damages as a result.

If a counter claim is made, the plaintiff must respond to that by either admitting or denying the allegations. Now, as the case goes along, the parties may need to change their pleadings if new information comes to light or if they realize a mistake.

A party changes there pleading by way of an amendment. Generally these amendments will be allowed if the new pleading alleges a claim that the law recognizes. In which case the suit proceeds accordingly with these changes.

LegalYou provides this and other expert advice for anyone going into court without an attorney. And by knowing the procedures beforehand and preparing for them, any uncertainty will be replaced with confidence.

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