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What is a Lawsuit Against a Fictitious Defendant?

Written by Berkowitz

lawsuit with a pen on top of it

A lawsuit may be filed against a fictitious defendant. This person is not manifested from the plaintiff’s imagination. Instead, they are an unknown party that is provided a fictitious name (e.g., John or Jane Doe or Doe I, Doe II, and Doe III). In the complaint, there is an allegation against this fictitious individual; when the identity is discovered, the real name will be inserted in the complaint.

Why Fictitious Defendants?

This is a helpful tool that was created to help plaintiffs who cannot readily identify the defendant. For example, a plaintiff was rear-ended by a vehicle and that vehicle left the scene. Or, there was a large pile-up accident where there is likely more than one defendant.

There are plenty of legal complexities involved in using a Doe defendant in a claim. Therefore, you will need an attorney to assist you with your case and determine if you can still file with a fictitious defendant.

What Happens When You Discover Their Identity?

The complaint must be amended once you have the identity of the defendant. Then, you will be required by law to serve the named defendant. They are served just like any other defendant; and they should be served with the summons, complaint, and the amendment showing their name change. While this is not necessary, it further protects you. Your attorney will ensure that a Proof of Service has been filed and that all rules were followed when the defendant was served with the summons.

The Basics of a Complaint

Your personal injury attorney will handle filling out the complaint. There are several components that are required in a complaint, which include:

  1. The Caption – This is at the top left corner and identifies all parties involved in the suit. If there is an unknown defendant, this is where the “Doe” designation would be placed.
  2. Jurisdiction and Venue – This states what court has jurisdiction over the claim and the venue refers to the location of that court. This is typically filed where the defendant resides, not where the plaintiff is. It can, however, be filed where the injury occurred.
  3. Statement of the Facts – This is where your attorney provides information about the claim, basically covering the accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Each paragraph will contain statements, but the statement of facts will not include all facts about the case.
  4. Legal Basis – Each count in this section covers the theories of liability. It will discuss the breach of duty and damages.
  5. Damages – This section is completed by your attorney and requests a specific amount in damages from the defendant. Even if you demand a specific amount in the initial complaint, this may not be the value of your case. Typically, the amount requested in the complaint is higher than the actual value and much higher than what you would be awarded.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney to File Your Claim

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, you can contact a personal injury attorney. An attorney will help identify all responsible parties and complete the initial complaint so that it is accepted by the court. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.