What is a plaintiff in a lawsuit? Other words you could hear for the term plaintiff are a petitioner or a claimant. The word plaintiff refers to the person or entity that begins the law case. They are the person or entity that brings a lawsuit case to a court of law. Because the plaintiff is the one who brings forth the lawsuit, the burden of proof lies with them.
First you might be wondering, "what is burden of proof and what does it have to do with a lawsuit?" In legal terms, the words "burden of proof" refers to the legal duty someone has to prove the claims they have made before a court of law. Since the plaintiff is the party that brings a case to a court of law, the burden of proof lies with them. This means that in a lawsuit, the plaintiff is the party responsible for proving the claims they are bringing against the defendant.
But what does it mean to have the burden of proof? Another legal term that can help in better understanding how cases work, is the term "preponderance of the evidence." This legal term refers to how the plaintiff administers the burden of proof. Preponderance of the evidence means that the wronged party meets the evidentiary standard of proving that more than 50% of their claim is true.
Another word you might find used for this term is respondent. In a court of law or a civil lawsuit, a defendant is called a defendant because they are the ones who have to defend themselves. The defendant is a person who has been sued, for example. If a defendant has been accused of committing a crime, then they become criminal defendants in a criminal lawsuit. In civil lawsuits, the plaintiff might sue the defendant for a personal injury and start a civil case.
These two terms are used by law firms as legal terms for both sides in a lawsuit. There is the side that brings the lawsuit forward and the side that defends themselves against the claims made by the initiating side. This first side is known as the plaintiff and they are usually the wronged party, while the second side is the defendant, and they are usually the party accused of some kind of wrong.
These terms refer to the two parties involved in a court case. In litigation, the involved parties could be an individual person vs a business or organization, a business vs an individual, two businesses vs each other, or two individuals vs each other.
So, in some cases the defendant could be a single person or an entity. Likewise, in some cases the plaintiff could be a single person or an entity. It all depends greatly on the specific circumstances involved in whatever wrong or harm may have occurred and what parties were involved.
There are many legal terms to learn when you are in a legal situation and knowing these two basic terms is an important start to understanding what is going on during a lawsuit. Whatever side of a lawsuit you may find yourself on, it is important to understand the difference between a claimant and a respondent so you can understand who has what responsibilities in a court of law or a civil case.