We are taking all appropriate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our firm is fully operational & continues to work hard for our clients. We are now offering our legal services via video, phone & internet consultations.

Understanding Your Role in a Lawsuit

Personal injury lawsuits are civil cases that aim to settle a dispute between two parties. In these court cases there are two roles: the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff, or plaintiffs, is the party that initiates the lawsuit based on claims that they have suffered injury at the hands of the defendant or defendants. The defendant is the party that defends themselves against the claim.

Both parties get a chance to gather information about the case, which can either be settled before the court date arrives or they will have their chance to plead their case before a judge with a goal of swaying the verdict to their side. No matter what side you are in a personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to understand your role. At AC Law, we’ve been fighting personal injury battles in The Villages and surrounding areas in Florida, and our team has more than 100 years of combined experience. We’re glad to use our experience to educate others, and in this article we’ll discuss in more detail what it means to be a plaintiff or a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. 


The plaintiff in a personal injury case is the person or persons that have allegedly suffered harm due to the intentional or negligent actions of the defendant. The plaintiff serves the defendant with a lawsuit to recover monetary damages for things like lost wages, physical pain, medical expenses or emotional suffering.

In Florida, those wanting to file a personal injury suit have up to four years to file a complaint before the statute of limitations expires.

As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof. This means it’s your job, or the job of your legal team, to prove that the defendant’s actions caused you harm by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you have to prove that your argument is more likely true than not based on evidence and testimonies.

Bearing the burden of proof is an important element in personal injury cases and requires experienced lawyers who understand this field comprehensively.   

In some cases, the plaintiff does not have to be the one directly harmed. Sometimes family members claim wrongful death and sue for pain and loss damages on behalf of their loved ones. In other cases, a bystander who witnesses a horrible accident can sue for emotional distress. 


A defendant in a personal injury case is a person or persons who have been formally sued for monetary damages. In a personal injury case, the defendant is the party that the plaintiff alleges is liable for his or her injuries.

As the defendant, you are entitled to legal representation in court. It’s important to find an experienced defense lawyer to guide you through this legal process and collect evidence or witnesses to dispute the plaintiff’s argument.

Another crucial step for the defendant is to respond to the civil complaint and summons. If a defendant does not provide an answer, the judge will automatically rule in favor of the plaintiff. 

Possible answers include full denial of the claims brought against you, partial denial saying parts of the plaintiff’s story are true, or in some states like Florida you can counter sue under special circumstances.

Being a party in a civil lawsuit can be stressful. You need lawyers who are understanding, trustworthy and experienced at navigating not only the courtroom but all aspects of the law. Whether you find yourself in need of legal assistance or have questions about the process, our team of personal injury attorneys at AC Law is here to help.