Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

An attorney who is experienced will explain that in the personal injury lawsuit process, the first order of business is to file a complaint with the courthouse. The attorney will draft the complaint on behalf of the complainant. No other person can sign the pleading besides the lawyer. The complaint contains the vital information that is necessary to inform the court as to the type of case involved and the relief requested.

Significance of a Complaint

The complaint is the initial pleading constructed by the injured person against the at-fault party, which outlines how the incident occurred, the injury sustained, and the compensation requested.

The complaint is filed at various stages throughout the personal injury claim. It is wise to have an attorney to consult with on this matter because in many cases the injured party is offered a settlement by the insurance company that is far less, and not acceptable, in regards to covering all of the expenses that surround an injury including the medical bills, loss of wage, and pain and suffering.

A lawsuit is often required in order for the insurance company to understand the severity of the claim. This will put the company on notice that the injured person has every intent to moving the claim forward as quickly as possible in order to receive adequate compensation.

Responding to a Complaint

In the District of Columbia, the rules require the defendant go through the complaint and either admit or deny the allegations contained therein. The attorney of the defendant will construct the answer to a complaint. Most of the time the incidental information regarding the name, address, or location of the incident will be admitted, however, the defendant will likely never admit liability for medical causation damages in his or her answer.


If the defendant believes the plaintiff to be at fault for causing the incident and he or she wishes to initiate a claim, that defendant may initiate a separate independent lawsuit against the defendant or may file a counterclaim within the same case via an attorney.

Meaning of a Summons

A summons is attached to a complaint in order to be served on the at-fault party or the defendant. It is issued by the clerk’s office and will provide information to the defendant on how to respond to the complaint, some of the deadlines involved, and the initial steps necessary.

If the defendant ignores the summons, then a default may be entered. Essentially if the defendant is deemed to have admitted the allegations of the complaint. From there, the plaintiff can take the necessary steps to obtain a judgment.

After the Summons

After the summons is served, it will be up to the defendant to file a responsive pleading. Pleadings are an opportunity for the parties to inform the court as to what the case is about. Not every detail is included in the pleadings but instead the pleadings are an effort by the parties to inform the court about the case so that the court has some understanding as to why the parties are there.

Typically, a defendant, when served, will provide a copy of that information to his or her insurance company. The insurance company will provide the at-fault party or defendant with an attorney. The attorney will then answer the complaint and the parties will engage in discovery.