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How does a civil complaint work?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

A civil case does not start out like a criminal case where a prosecutor presses criminal charges against a person. If you wish to initiate civil litigation, you as a plaintiff must file in court a criminal pleading, also called a complaint, to begin the process of seeking damages against another person or entity.

If you have never participated in a civil suit, you should understand how to compose a civil complaint since it is the first step to seeking remedies from a party that has wronged you.

The definition of a complaint

The Cornell Law School explains that a complaint establishes a basis for a specific court to hear your case. To do so, your complaint should describe some key information. First, you must explain all of the claims against the party you wish to litigate. Second, your complaint should state the remedies that you are seeking. Many civil cases involve money, but your complaint might ask for something else such as material compensation.

A copy of your complaint will go to the other party, known in legal terms as a defendant. The defendant must reply with an answer which will respond to your claims, likely with a denial or an explanation to the claims you have made, or perhaps with counterclaims that you will have to give your own answer to. This process may lead to an eventual courtroom trial to determine if you have an entitlement to remedies per your complaint.

The state rules regarding complaints

Keep in mind that there are both federal and state rules regarding how to write and file a complaint. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes how to submit a pleading through federal courts, and some states copy the federal procedures for their rules. However, not all states follow the federal model. Be sure that you understand what North Carolina rules state in regard to beginning a civil case.