A person, known as a plaintiff, must file a legal complaint in the appropriate court to sue someone. However, prior to filing a complaint, the plaintiff must hire a lawyer, determine the grounds on which to sue, pick a court that has jurisdiction, choose between civil and small claims courts, and determine whether he can ultimately collect any judgement entered in his favor, explains Nolo.
A complaint is typically the first document filed in a court case, notes FindLaw. In it, the plaintiff outlines the case against the defendant, including the identities of the parties involved, the facts of the case, the legal grounds for the dispute and the legal basis authorizing the court to hear the matter. The plaintiff files the complaint with the court to start the lawsuit.
The plaintiff is also responsible for serving a copy of the complaint on the defendant before the case can proceed. A summons usually accompanies the copy of the complaint that tells the defendant when to appear in court regarding the matter, explains FindLaw. The plaintiff can serve these documents on the defendant personally or hire a third-party company to handle the task. The plaintiff must provide proof of service to the court before it hears the case.