How Are Cases Filed?


Quick Answer

A person or his attorney files a document called a complaint or petition with a court to start a case, according to the Oregon Judicial Department. Most cases require payment of a filing fee to file the document. The complaint must be delivered to the defendant, states the United States Courts.

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Full Answer

In a civil case, the complaint explains the plaintiff's injury and how the defendant caused the injury and asks the court to order relief, explains the United States Courts. A plaintiff may ask the court to award money as compensation for the injury or ask the court to order the defendant to stop the harmful activity. The court can grant other types of relief, such as declaring the legal rights of a plaintiff in a particular situation.

The plaintiff and defendant, called litigants, may conduct discovery to prepare their case for trial, notes the United States Courts. During discovery, the litigants give each other information about the case, such as the names of witnesses and copies of case-related documents. Each side may file motions with the court, asking the court to rule on evidence or procedures for trial. Litigants often settle cases before trial. If they do not settle, the litigants can have a jury trial or a trial by a judge without a jury, called a bench trial.

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