These are the two documents we prepare to start the lawsuit against the defendant -- the person or entity that we allege to be responsible or liable for your injury. When the Summons and Complaint are filed with the appropriate County Clerk, or the Federal District Court Clerk, the lawsuit has been commenced. The Summons and Complaint are then "served on" (that is, delivered to) the defendant by a law enforcement officer, or private process server.
The Summons tells the defendant how many days they have (typically 20) to formally respond to the Complaint.
The Complaint consists of a series of numbered paragraphs that lays out the basic facts of who you are, who the defendant is, how and where the accident happened, and what injuries and damages you suffered as a result of the accident.