Many people don’t know how to name all of the responsible parties in a lawsuit when they do not know who they are. Fortunately, there is a way around this: naming a John Doe defendant. This article will help you understand what steps are done if one can’t identify each defendant in your lawsuit.

The John Doe Defendant

Sometimes, there are situations where the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit isn’t sure if there were other parties involved in the incident that caused their injuries. This makes it more difficult to know who to hold liable.

If this is the case in your situation, you may be able to name a John Doe defendant (also known as fictitious defendant) depending upon the laws of your state. When you do this, you will include a statement in the complaint that indicates that the actual names of the liable parties will be added when they are discovered.

Here’s an example. You are injured while trying to make your way into a store during a doorbuster sale. Your injuries were caused by some of the other shoppers who were rushing to get inside.

In this case, you would likely name the owners of the store as defendants. However, you would also name the people who caused your injury even though you may not know their names.


The reason plaintiffs will name John Doe defendants in their complaint is because it can keep the statute of limitations from expiring. Naming a John Doe defendant will help you ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable.

How It Works

After you file your complaint, the case will go into the discovery period. It is during this time that the identities of the John Doe defendants can be discovered. After you identify the people who were previously unknown, you can amend the complaint and add the person’s name.

After the complaint is amended, you will have between 2 and 4 months to serve the defendant. If the identity of the John Doe defendant is not discovered before the date of the trial, they will be dismissed.

Now that you know how to name an unknown party in your lawsuit, it should make it easier to hold all parties liable. Consult with an attorney who can help you be successful in your lawsuit.