Bringing an action or lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries incurred in a car accident or other incident caused by the negligence of another can be a confusing and frightening experience.
Not understanding the words being used by the judge and attorneys only adds to the confusion.
Here are 3 important terms you should know if you have a personal injury action.
There are always two parties to any lawsuit: the plaintiff and the defendant.
The plaintiff in a typical civil lawsuit is the person (or persons) bringing the legal action. The plaintiff is the one who files the case with the court. He or she is the person alleging that he/she/they (depending on how many plaintiffs are involved) was injured because of the actions (or inactions) of the other party—the defendant (or defendants).
- Burden of Proof
To win any civil action, you must first prove your case.
The “burden of proof” refers to the evidentiary burden that a plaintiff must meet in order for the judge or jury to hold a defendant liable for a plaintiff’s damages.
Many people are familiar with the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold required for criminal cases. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant did whatever he is accused of.
In civil cases, however, the burden of proof is not that high.
A plaintiff’s allegations must be proven by “a preponderance” of the evidence.
Essentially, this means that the plaintiff must prove that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant caused plaintiff’s damages.
What the plaintiff must prove depends on the type of case being litigated. So, for example, a plaintiff might have to prove “by a preponderance” of the evidence that the defendant breached the contract, or left water on the floor, or ran the red light, etc.
- Prayer for Relief
When you file a civil action, the paper you file with the court to begin your case is called a civil “complaint.” Broadly speaking, the complaint tells the plaintiff’s side of the story and puts the defendant on notice of what he/she is being sued for.
A very important part of the complaint is the “prayer for relief.”
This is simply a paragraph or two in the complaint (usually at the end) that tells the defendant (and the judge) what damages the plaintiff is seeking. Most often, this is expressed by naming a dollar amount. But in some cases, the prayer for relief can also include non-monetary requests—such as abating a nuisance, for example.
Understanding the terms used in lawsuits will make your involvement in litigation less stressful.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in several counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.