What is a Plaintiff?
A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainant, is the legal term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court. By doing so, the plaintiff seeks a legal remedy, and if successful, the court will issue judgment in favor of the plaintiff and make the appropriate court order (e.g., an order for damages).
In some jurisdictions the commencement of a lawsuit is done by filing a summons, claim form and/or a complaint. These documents are known as pleadings, that set forth the alleged wrongs committed by the defendant or defendants with a demand for relief.
In other jurisdictions, the action is commenced by service of legal process (process service) by delivery of these documents on the defendant by a process server.
The documents are only filed with the court subsequently with an affidavit from the process server that they had been given to the defendant according to the rules of civil procedure.
Private investigators may find themselves working for either side in a court case. Detectives may serve as an expert witness, a subject matter expert, or provide testimony regarding information, facts or details they dug up during their investigative efforts. Private eyes should be generally familiar with court proceedings to help clients through challenging times.
View other legal and law definitions in our Investigation Glossary.