A lawsuit or (less commonly) "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurreddamages as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. If the plaintiff is successful, judgment will be given in the plaintiff's favor, and a variety of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose an injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.
A lawsuit may involve dispute resolution of private law issues between individuals, business entities or non-profit organizations. A lawsuit may also enable the state to be treated as if it were a private party in a civil case, as plaintiff or defendant regarding an injury, or may provide the state with a civil cause of action to enforce certain laws.
The conduct of a lawsuit is called litigation. One who has a tendency to litigate rather than seek non-judicial remedies is called litigious.
Rules of procedure and complications in lawsuits
Rules of criminal or civil procedure govern the conduct of a lawsuit in the common law adversarial system of dispute resolution. Procedural rules are additionally constrained/informed by separate statutory laws, case law, and constitutional provisions that define the rights of the parties to a lawsuit (see especially due process), though the rules will generally reflect this legal context on their face. The details of procedure differ greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and often from court to court within the same jurisdiction. The rules are very important for litigants to know, however, because they dictate the timing and progression of the lawsuit—what may be filed and when, to obtain what result. Failure to comply with the procedural rules may result in serious limitations upon the ability to present claims or defenses at any subsequent trial, or even dismissal of the lawsuit.
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