A defendant’s first pleading that addresses the merits of the case, is called an answer. An answer usually denies the plaintiff’s allegations in their complaint. Additionally, an answer sets forth the defendant’s defenses and counterclaims.
An answer should give the plaintiff notice of all issues the defendant intends to raise during the course of the case. This enables the plaintiff to adequately prepare their case.
In most jurisdcitions, a defendant’s answer must be filed within twenty days after receipt of the summons and complaint.
An answer begins with a caption, which identifies the location of the action, the court, the docket or file number as assigned by the court, and the title of the case including the names of the parties. Following the caption, the main body of the answer includes the defandant’s admissions or denials to the allegations made in the complaint. Next the answer should include any affirmative defenses available to the defendant. Affirmative defenses, state that an allegation may or may not be true, but that even if it is true, the law provides a legal defense that defeats the plaintiff’s claim. Counterclaims and cross-claims may also be raised in an answer.