What is the Difference Between a Plaintiff and a Defendant?
It is known that the legal industry uses a number of words or phrases that are not commonplace in day to day society. It is also said that attorneys are longwinded and often times use legalese. This can contribute to a difficult time understanding the meaning of what an attorney is saying. The purpose of this blog is to provide some clarity as two common words utilized in the legal world: Plaintiff and Defendant.
Who Is the Plaintiff?
The Plaintiff is a party in a civil case who files a lawsuit against another party. In a personal injury case, it is often the injured individual bringing a claim against the wrongful party. With that said, the Plaintiff is not always an individual. The Plaintiff can also be a business or corporation. Simply, the Plaintiff is the person and/or entity bringing the suit against the Defendant.
Who Is the Defendant?
That brings us to the other side of that equation: the Defendant. The Defendant in a civil lawsuit is the person and/or entity that the lawsuit is being brought against. The Defendant is alleged to have done something wrong and/or harmed the Plaintiff in one way or another. Each case is not limited to one Defendant. In fact, many cases have numerous Defendants that have been alleged to have acted unlawfully.
Although the Defendant is the person and/or entity in which the claim is originally being brought against, that does not mean the Defendant does not have the ability to also bring a claim in the lawsuit. For instance, if the Defendant alleges the Plaintiff perform an improper act or harmed the Defendant, the Defendant has the ability to bring a counterclaim against the Plaintiff. Also, in the scenario in which there are multiple Defendants, one Defendant has the capability to bring a crossclaim against another Defendant in the lawsuit. As one can see, the Defendant also does have the capacity to bring claims in a lawsuit in which he and/or she has been sued.
Summarizing Each Party’s Role
In sum, if one is injured and brings a claim against another party that person is identified as the Plaintiff. On the other hand, if a lawsuit is brought against an individual and/or entity that person and/or entity is the Defendant. As mentioned above, just because someone is sued does not mean he or she cannot bring a claim against the person suing them and/or another Defendant in the matter. The viability of all claims are fact dependent and the determination if a claim is viable needs to be done on a case by case basis. Now, you know basic legal terminology regarding about parties in a lawsuit and each parties’ role when a claim is filed.