This is the answering document to a complaint. The defendant will have the opportunity in the answer to admit/deny/disclaim knowledge of any allegations made by the plaintiff. The defendant may also put forward an affirmative defense(s).

An affirmative defense is a kind of defense, reliant upon a set of facts beyond those alleged by the plaintiff, that reduces or eliminates the defendant's liability, regardless of whether or not the plaintiff's claims are found to be true.

An example of an affirmative defense would be a violation of the applicable statute of limitations. Even if the plaintiff proves the elements of his/her case, if said plaintiff waits too long to initiate legal action, the defendant may be able to raise an affirmative defense predicated on a violation of the statute of limitations associated with that claim. The court would evaluate the applicable statute of limitations (for instance, requiring that a complaint be filed within 4 years of a motor vehicle accident) and the length of time that has passed since the accident occurred. In such a scenario, if over 4 years had passed, the case would be dismissed with prejudice (meaning that the case would be thrown out and the same claim(s) could not be subsequently re-litigated). There are, of course, exceptions to the above mentioned scenario.