The legal process of suing someone is not something to be taken lightly. If you’re considering taking legal action against another person, it’s essential that you first understand the basics of how to sue someone. Only then can you decide whether or not pursuing a lawsuit is the right course of action for your situation.
If this is your first time considering suing someone, the process may seem daunting. But don’t worry. This article will walk you through the basics of how to sue someone so that you can approach your potential lawsuit with confidence.
1. Determine if your claim is valid
The first step in suing someone is to determine whether or not you have a valid legal claim. This means that you will need to prove that the person you are suing acted negligently or intentionally caused you harm. If you cannot prove that the other person is at fault, then you will not be able to win your case.
You should not take this step lightly. Ensure that you have a strong case before moving forward with a lawsuit. Otherwise, you may waste time and money on a losing battle. Consult with a lawyer to help you determine whether or not you have a valid claim.
2. Find the proper court
The next step is to determine which court has jurisdiction over your case. This can be tricky, as there are many different types of courts in the United States. More common court systems include federal, state, and local courts.
The federal court system handles cases that involve claims against the United States government or disputes between citizens of different states. The state court system handles cases that occur within the state’s borders. And the local court system handles cases that involve claims against a city or county government.
You will need to file your lawsuit in the correct court to have a chance of winning. You will file your case in the state court system for most lawsuits. But there are some exceptions. If you are suing the federal government, you will need to file your lawsuit in the federal court system.
3. Serve the other party with a summons and complaint
The next step is to serve the other party with a summons and complaint. This process is known as the “service of process.” It involves delivering the summons and complaint to the other party in a legal way so that they are aware of the lawsuit and have an opportunity to respond.
The summons is a legal document that notifies the other party of the lawsuit and gives them information about the court in which the case will be tried. The complaint is a legal document that details the specific claims against the other party.
Process servers are typically used to serve the summons and complaint. They are trained professionals who know how to deliver legal documents properly. Other times, the court will allow you to serve the documents yourself. But this typically only happens in straightforward cases.
4. The other party’s response
After being served with a summons and complaint, the other party will have an opportunity to respond. They must do so within a certain period, which is typically 20 days.
The other party will usually respond by filing an “answer” with the court. In their answer, they will deny or admit to the claims made against them in the complaint. They may also raise any legal defenses that they have. In this step, the other party may also file a “counterclaim” against you, which is a lawsuit against you.
5. The discovery process
After the other party has filed their answer, the next step is discovery. This is how both parties gather information and evidence to support their case. The parties involved can do it through written questions (interrogatories), document requests, and depositions.
Both parties will have an opportunity to request information and evidence from the other party. The other party must then provide this information within a certain period, typically 30 days.
This process can be very time-consuming and expensive. It is not uncommon for discovery to take several months to complete. This can be further complicated if the discovery process requires serving subpoenas across state lines, known as domesticating a subpoena. Process servers can also make serving out of state subpoenas easier, as they can facilitate applications, filing, and providing documents to out-of-state courts.
After discovery is complete, the next step is trial, where both parties present their case to a judge or jury and let them decide who wins. Trials can be very long and expensive, and also very unpredictable. Only a tiny percentage of cases go to trial— approximately 2%, based on data from 2017.
If either party is unhappy with the trial’s outcome, they can file an appeal. This is a request for the case to be re-heard by a higher court. Appeals can be very complex and time-consuming, but they offer a chance for the case’s outcome to be overturned.
When you file a lawsuit, you are essentially starting a legal process that can be very time-consuming and expensive. It is essential to understand all of the steps involved before you decide to file a lawsuit. Otherwise, you may find yourself in over your head. If you have been wronged and are considering filing a lawsuit, contact a lawyer to discuss your case.