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Legal Steps to take to Initiate a Trial

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This page is designed to give you information regarding the opening rounds of the case, namely, the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s answer. Because they are so crucial to defining the landscape of the future case, some extra attention is worthwhile.


What might be most important about the complaint actually is not on it at all. Before sitting down to draft a complaint and initiate a lawsuit, a plaintiff’s lawyer in a products liability action should speak carefully with his or her client about expectations. The client’s expectation should drive the general course the attorney takes. Features along that path include what venue to choose, who to sue, what theory to sue on, what relief to seek, and whether to go by jury or judge. However, after this path is illuminated, certain features need to be embedded within the complaint itself. These include the following: the parties, facts, jurisdiction, venue, product information, negligence, casual relationship between the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries, damages, recovery sought, attorney certification, to name a few. In the alternative, a complaint could set out a cause of action for strict liability, instead of negligence. For a discussion on the difference between the two, click here. Also, you cannot seek punitive damages for body or property damage on a products liability action unless you have a reasonable likelihood from getting them from a jury. Additionally, for personal injury actions across Illinois genearlly, the law does not allow pleading a specific amount of damages, it must be just above the jurisdictional minimum. Finally, consider statute of limitations requirements on your complaint: they must be brought within 2 years from the date of injury with a 12-year statute of repose after the product in question is sold and a 10-year statute of repose after the product in question is delivered to the first buyer. Click below to see sample Illinois products liability complaints:


After the plaintiff files a complaint with the relevant court, and after it is served upon the defendant(s), they have 30 days to respond with their answer. Their answer must admit, deny, or plead lack of information to answer every allegation within the complaint. Also, they must swear to all of their answers. Defendants can also raise new issues in their answer or affirmative defenses. In product liability cases, it is typical for defendants to claim others were responsible or they had not control over the product in question. See sample answers in Illinois products liability cases here:

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