Complaint and Answer

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When you’re confused by legal terms, wouldn’t it be great to talk to a lawyer who simplifies the jargon and speaks in clear language? We’ve done that for you with this glossary of legal terms.

Here’s the difference between complaint and answer:

What Is a Legal Complaint vs. Answer?

Complaint vs. Answer Infographic Describing the terms for the first two steps in a lawsuit.

There’s two main documents that start a lawsuit: the first one is a complaint. That’s filed by the plaintiff, and it sets forth allegations that the plaintiff alleges the defendant did.

The answer to the complaint is the document filed by the defendant, and it responds to each of the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint. So, the complaint initiates the lawsuit, and the answer responds to the complaints in the lawsuit.

The Two Main Documents that Start a Lawsuit

In short, a complaint and an answer are the two main documents that begin any type of litigation.

Andrew Kryder, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer, Explains a Legal Complaint and Answer

Hear Andy Kryder, a Chicago personal injury attorney who excels at simplifying complex legal terms, explain a legal complaint and answer.

What Is a Legal Complaint?

“The complaint is the document that the plaintiff (the person who feels like they’ve been harmed)files with the court. It sets forth allegations that the other person or entity that they’ve sued has done to cause them harm, and it also sets forth whatever cause of action they are seeking relief under.”

Andy Gives Examples of a Cause of Action

He further explains how a plaintiff may be seeking relief, “Meaning damages or judicial order. [It] could be breach of contract, it could be tort: meaning negligence, medical malpractice, any of those types of things.”

Is a Complaint Different from a Petition?

Andy explains that in legalese, a petition and a complaint are the same thing, “A complaint or a petition is sometimes used interchangeably, and the answer is the document that the defendant files in response to the complaint.”

What Is a Legal Answer?

“Think of it this way,” Andy continues, “the harmed person alleges in detail what they feel has happened, and then the answer responds to each of those allegations in turn.”

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