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My lawyer said he filed my lawsuit with the court, but he called it a petition. I’m suing someone for damages for a car accident, why is that called a petition?

In Texas, the plaintiff starts a lawsuit by filing an original petition. The name comes because the plaintiff is petitioning, or asking, the Court to make an award of some kind for the plaintiff.

The petition typically sets out the parties, the general facts about what happened in the case, the causes of action that the plaintiff is pursuing, and the type of damages that the plaintiff is asking to recover. A petition can be amended a number of times throughout the case.

One peculiarity of Texas law is that at trial, a party is limited to presenting evidence relating to claims that are set out in the petition. As a result, many lawyers have their pleadings as broad and vague as possible so that the lawyers are less limited on the type of evidence and claims they can present at trial. The defendant can file a motion asking that the plaintiff be more specific.

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