How Do You File a Lawsuit?


Quick Answer

To file a lawsuit, an individual files a complaint, decides where the case is to be heard, serves the defendant a summons and waits for the defendant to respond to the complaint, according to HowStuffWorks. Once he receives a summons, the defendant can file a countersuit.

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How Do You File a Lawsuit?
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Full Answer

A complaint lists the facts of the case, all parties involved, the plaintiff's desired outcome of the case and a legal supporting theory for the case, notes HowStuffWorks. In addition to there being several defendants and plaintiffs, there can also be hundreds of plaintiffs involved in a single lawsuit, which is known as a class action lawsuit.

Lawsuits involving monetary compensation of less than $5,000 go to small claims court, states HowStuffWorks. The small claims court process is usually much faster than larger cases, and an individual isn't required to have a lawyer or go before a jury. Larger cases can go to different levels of court and involve different jurisdictions.

An attorney can also decide which court a case goes before, according to HowStuffWorks. An attorney may base his decision on the identity of the judge, the court's efficiency, the complexity of the process and how quickly the case can be heard.

If the defendant decides to file a countersuit after receiving his summons, a new complaint process is started, notes HowStuffWorks. A plaintiff may be rewarded everything requested in his compliant through a default judgment if the defendant doesn't file a response in a timely manner.

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