Common terms used in lawsuits

What Did My Attorney Just Say? – Part 2

Legal term definitions explained

In part 1 of this blog, we talked about the fact that attorneys have a way of using very complicated language and this results in a communication gap with their clients. Most clients would not even think of asking their attorney to explain it all in simple terms. But they should and the attorney must be able to explain everything simply.

To aid in understanding legal terms used in a civil lawsuit, below we explain the meaning of some terms for a lawsuit which could make it easier for you to understand your attorney:

  • 1. Civil lawsuit: a lawsuit filed by one party against another party usually asking for relief in the form of money or asking the court to stop another person from doing something.
  • 2. Litigation: a lawsuit where one party asks the court for help usually for money owed or deserved.
  • 3. Complaint: the first document filed with a court by someone who seeks help from the court.
  • 4. Summons: a form issued by the court which has to be served on the other party to show that they are being sued.
  • 5. “Served” means making sure the other party receives your document. In the case of a summons and complaint, someone has to bring and hand it to you personally or leave it at your home or usual place of business with someone over 18 years old. If they do not, the service may not be proper.
  • 6. Plaintiff: someone who files a lawsuit or whose attorney files a lawsuit on their behalf.
  • 7. Defendant: someone who is being sued.
  • 8. Allegations: Statements that are stated on information and belief by the plaintiff. This means the Plaintiff thinks the statements are true but will have to prove them during the course of the lawsuit to get what he or she is asking the court to do.
  • 9. Answer: a drafted document to be filed with the court by the defendant in which all allegations are usually denied. This has a special format and a person cannot just file statements with the court to answer a complaint.
  • 10. Cross-complaint: A document to be filed with the court by defendant who is now countersuing the plaintiff basically saying I have problems with the plaintiff and should be entitled to relief. We hope the above explanations make it easier to understand lawsuits.

Look for our next blog with additional definitions of legal terms.

We at Ghassemian Law Group, endeavor to simplify and explain legal problems in language that our clients can understand. If you have any questions about a legal issue, feel free to contact our office at 949-436-2785 and we will be happy to help you.


This article is informational only and meant to provide guidance. It is not meant to be legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. For what to do in your specific situation, please consult with a qualified Construction Law attorney.


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Hoffman Legal Corporation

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