Who Are the Plaintiffs and Defendants in Personal Injury Cases?

by cjadmin | March 13th, 2023

Personal injury cases are legal disputes that occur when someone suffers damages due to another person’s negligence or wrongdoing. In a personal injury case, the injured person, known as the plaintiff, seeks financial compensation for their losses from the defendant, the party or entity responsible for their injury.

Knowing the difference between the plaintiff and defendant helps you understand the dynamics of the case and how the California personal injury lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers can help maximize your settlement.

Who is the Plaintiff?

A plaintiff in a personal injury case is the party who suffers harm due to another person’s negligent behavior. The plaintiff initiates legal proceedings against the person or entity responsible for their injury, seeking restitution for their losses. Most plaintiffs prove their case using a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the evidence makes a claim for damages more likely true than not.

The plaintiff is usually represented by a lawyer who helps them navigate the legal process and make the strongest case possible for their claim. Plaintiffs typically seek damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Due to California’s pure comparative negligence law that awards compensation based on the percentage of fault, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was as close to 100% responsible for their injuries as possible to maximize the settlement. 

Common examples of plaintiffs in personal injury cases include:

  • Individuals involved in a car accident
  • Workers who suffered an injury on the job
  • Patients in nursing homes who suffer neglect or abuse by facility staff
  • Consumers injured by a defective product

Bystanders or family members can also be plaintiffs in personal injury cases. CACI 1620 allows them to sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress if they witness a horrific accident, while families can file a wrongful death lawsuit for compensation.

Who is the Defendant?

A defendant in a personal injury case is the party accused of causing harm to the plaintiff. The defendant is responsible for refuting the plaintiff’s allegations and challenging the evidence presented against them. Some cases, like trucking accidents, may have multiple defendants named, such as the driver, trucking company, or parts manufacturer.

The defendant may argue that they are not responsible for the plaintiff’s injury or that the plaintiff is partially liable for their injury. They can assert a defense to minimize the amount of compensation they are required to pay to the plaintiff.

The defendant is typically represented by a lawyer who helps them understand their legal obligations and defend their position in legal negotiations and in court.

Common examples of defendants in personal injury cases include:

  • Drivers who caused a car accident
  • Employers who failed to provide a safe work environment
  • Healthcare providers who provide negligent care in nursing facilities
  • Manufacturers of a defective product

How it Works in Different Types of Personal Injury Cases

There are many personal injury cases in which plaintiffs and defendants are defined differently. For example, plaintiffs and defendants in car accidents differ from those in slip and fall or nursing home abuse cases.

The following are common personal injury lawsuit areas and the typical plaintiffs and defendants in each case:

  • Car Accidents

In car accident cases, the plaintiff and defendant are typically drivers involved in the collision. For example, the plaintiff in a car accident case would be the party seeking damages after suffering a spinal cord injury due to the other driver speeding or driving drunk and causing the crash.

  • Nursing Home Abuse

In nursing home abuse cases, the plaintiff is a resident who suffered mental, physical, sexual, or financial harm due to a staff member, medical provider, or administrator’s negligence or abuse. For example, a nursing home resident who experiences neglect when the provider fails to take care of their daily hygiene needs, such as bathing, changing their clothes, or brushing their teeth.

The defendant in these cases is typically the nursing home staff, including orderlies, nurses, doctors, or facility administrators.

  • Slip and Fall

In slip and fall cases, the plaintiff is an individual who has suffered harm after slipping, tripping, or falling on someone else’s property—for example, a resident who suffers a broken leg due to falling on an uneven staircase. The defendant is the owner or manager of the property where the fall occurred.

Slip and fall lawsuits can have more than one defendant, including property owners, property managers, and contractors responsible for maintaining the property. To win compensation, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant is responsible for maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition and that their failure to do so resulted in harm to the plaintiff.

Schedule a Free Case Review with Berg Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured in an accident and need legal help, contact a member of our legal team to schedule a free consultation. A good lawyer is critical to helping you build your case and form a strategy for the best outcome.  

Our attorneys will work on your behalf and won’t stop fighting until you get the compensation you deserve.