File a Claim – a legal demand for compensation, payment, or reimbursement, for a loss or injury caused by a breach of contract or a tort

     This page is continued from Civil Law Self-Help Walkthrough >>>> Section 4:


     The general principle is that the claimant is entitled to full compensation for his or her losses.   In tort, the purpose of damages is to put the claimant in the position that s/he would have been in had the tort not been committed.  In Contract, the purpose of damages is to put the claimant in the position that s/he would have been in had the contract been performed.  In either case the claimant must take all reasonable steps to mitigate his or her losses.

    When an action is filed to recover damages only, and not brought for the specific recovery of lands, goods, or sums of money, the usual course is to issue a writ of inquiry.  By virtue of such writ, the sheriff, aided by twelve lawful men, ascertains the amount of damages, and makes return to the court of the inquisition, which, unless set aside, fixes the damages, and a final judgment follows.

    But when the action is founded on a promissory note, bond, or other contract in writing, by which the amount of money due may be easily computed, it is the practice, in some courts, to refer to the clerk or prothonotary the assessment of damages.  In such cases no writ of inquiry is issued. [1]

n. (13c)

l. A statement that something yet to be proved is true <claims of torture>

2. The assertion of an existing right; any right to payment or to an equitable remedy, even if contingent or provisional <the spouse’s claim to half of the lottery winnings>.

3. A demand for money, property, or a legal remedy to which one asserts a right; especially the part of a complaint in a civil action specifying what relief the plaintiff asks for.  aka claim for relief (1808).

4. An interest or remedy recognized at law; the means by which a person can obtain a privilege, possession, of enjoyment of a right or thing; CAUSE OF ACTION (1) <claim against the employer for wrongful termination>. [2] 

1. A legal assertion; a legal demand; Taken by a person wanting compensation, payment, or reimbursement for a loss under a contract, or an injury due to negligence.

2. Amount a claimant demands. [3]

1. A demand for money or property; the assertion of a demand, or the challenge of something, as a matter of right; a demand of some matter, as of right, made by one person upon another to do or to forbear to do some act or thing, as a matter of duty, Vulcan Iron Works v Edwards, 27 Or 563, 36 P 22; a challenge by a man of the propriety or ownership of a thing, which he has not in his possession, but which is wrongfully detained from him, Prigg v Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (US) 16 Pet 539, 10 L Ed 1060; a demand made by the owner, or on behalf of the owner, of a vessel for its return after a seizure of the vessel by way of perfecting a forfeiture thereof by a proceeding in admiralty.  48 Am J1st Ship § 30; a demand against an insurance company for payment of a loss; a writing which uses words showing an intention to claim benefits under veteran’s insurance.  29A Am J Rev ed Ins § 1989; an assertion of ownership to a portion of the unappropriated soil of the public domain, protected by an entry in accordance with the federal statutes.  42 Am J1st Pub L § 19; a precise assertion of rights by an inventor respecting his discovery or invention.  40 Am J 1st Pat § 92; a cause of action for some purposes.  As used in a statute concerning claims against the state and providing for their enforcement by suit, the term is equivalent to “cause of action.” Northwestern & Pacific Hypotheek Bank v State of Washington, 18 Wash 73, 50 P 586.
The term does not include causes of action purely equitable and in which purely equitable relief is sought. Ashbauth v Davis, 71 Idaho 150, 227 P2d 954, 32 ALR2d 361.
See adverse claim; mining claim. [4]

1. Something demanded as a matter of right.

2. A civil case.

3. With respect to commercial paper, a right to the instrument on its proceeds. [5]

Related Terms:

claims adjuster – a person who makes a determination of the value of a claim against an insurance company for the purpose of arriving at the amount for which the claim will be settled.

claimant – one who claims or makes a claim; an applicant for justice; a plaintiff.

claims courts – a federal or state court for asserting claims against the government, such as the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

General Terms for Various Types of Claims:

ancillary claim – a claim that is collateral to, dependent on, or auxiliary to another claim.

  • supplemental claim – a claim for further relief based on events occurring after the original claim was made.

antecedent claima preexisting claim. * Under the UCC, a holder takes an instrument for value if it is taken for an antecedent claim. UCC § 3-303.

apportionable claim – a claim for economic loss or damage to property where, more than one wrongdoer is liable in proportion to his or her responsibility for the harm done.

honest claim – made by someone who believes they have a right to something or that there is a chance that such right exists.

liquidated claim – a claim with a definite amount that was agreed upon, can easily be determined, or has already been determined.  — aka liquidated demand.

unliquidated claim – a claim whose existence or amount is not agreed upon by the parties; or that cannot determined by applying rules of law or mathematical calculation.  The amount, if any, if often determined by a fact-finder (a judge in a bench trial or a jury in a jury trial).

Terms for Claims which have No Merit:

colorable claim – a claim that appears legally well founded, but may actually be false or invalid.

false claim -an assertion or statement that is untrue, especially overbilling.

fraudulent claim – a claim for any benefit or payment based on an intentional fraudulent misrepresentation.

frivolous claim – a claim that has no legal basis or merit. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b).

stale claim – a claim that is barred by the statute of limitations or the defense of laches. — aka stale demand.

Filing Claims Against
Government Agencies, Officers, etc.:

Filing a Claim against an Officer or Government Agency – a self-help walkthrough.

Specific Types of Claims:

claim against decedent’s estate – a debt that could have been enforced in a court against the decedent during his lifetime.

claim and delivery – the name of an action to recover personal property wrongfully taken or held and, in some circumstances, to recover damages.

enhanced-injury claim – a cause of action in which a defendant’s liability stems from the defendant’s negligence or defective product that resulted in harm caused by another to be more serious than it would have been.

Types of Claims
Asserted after a Civil Action
has been Commenced:

claim (prayer or damend) for relief – a complaint and any pleading which sets forth a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim.  — aka demand for relief; relief; prayer for relief.

counterclaim – a cause of action within the defendant’s answer which may have been used to sue the plaintiff in a separate action; used in opposition to or as a setoff against the plaintiff ’s claim.

  • compulsory counterclaim – if a defendant fails to assert a compulsory counterclaim in the original action, that claim may not be brought in a later, separate action.
  • permissive counterclaim – does not arise out of the same subject matter as the opposing party’s claim or involves third parties over which the court does not have jurisdiction, and may be brought in a later, separate action.

cross-claim – a claim asserted against a codefendant(s) or coplaintiff(s) in a case and that relates to the subject of the original claim or counterclaim. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(g). — aka cross-action; cross-suit.

third-party claim – a claim to property held by the defendant, set forth in a third-party complaint.

Types of Claims generally pertaining to
Business & Commerce:

false-association claim – based on the wrongful use of a distinctive name, mark, trade dress, or other device to misrepresent sponsorship, origin of goods or services, or affiliation.

commercial tort claim – business-related claim arising in tort pertaining, typically relating to fraud and conversion, etc.

consumer claim – a person’s legal claim based on having purchased defective goods or services for a noncommercial purpose.

maritime claim – a claim related to a ship or a carriage of cargo by ship.


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[1]: U.S. Legal, “Assessment of Damages & Legal Definition”:

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[3]: Black’s Law Dictionary Second Edition Online, “CLAIM”:

[4]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[5]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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