How to file a lawsuit

Once you have decided to go ahead and file a lawsuit, you will probably need some help figuring out how to get started. Filing a lawsuit is not always a clear and straightforward process, and even basic decisions such as where to sue might not be as simple as they seem. In FindLaw’s section on How to Sue, you can find information about how to decide whether to file a lawsuit, whether you need the counsel of an attorney, how to write demand letters prior to a lawsuit, and what to expect in a lawsuit as it progresses from beginning to end.

Determining if You Should File a Lawsuit

When someone injures you or damages your property, your first instinct may be to think, “I’m going to sue that person!” But, lawsuits take up a lot of time, energy, and often money so it’s important to consider it carefully before actually filing a lawsuit. There are a few helpful questions to consider when determining whether or not to file a lawsuit:

  1. Do you have a good case?
  2. Would you be willing to go to mediation or accept a settlement?
  3. Will you be able to collect if you win your lawsuit?

First, although there are never any guarantees that you will win a case, it’s important to figure out if you have a good case. Most lawsuits can be broken down into a series of elements and in order to determine if you have a good case, each element must be satisfied. For example, if you want to file a breach of contract lawsuit against a contractor, you would have to make sure that you are able to satisfy each element of a breach of contract case.

Second, in the United States legal system, a majority of cases are settled instead of taken to trial. Many times the best solution to a problem is to discuss the issue with the other side, often with the help of a neutral mediator. Mediation is often a much more low cost and quicker alternative to a trial. In fact, many situations may require the parties attempt to mediate or arbitrate the issues before actually heading to court.

Assuming you have positive answers to the first two questions, you should also think about whether or not you’ll be able collect a money judgment from the defendant. It’s important to remember that if the defendant doesn’t have the ability to pay a monetary judgment, there is really no point in going through the time, effort, and money of filing a lawsuit against him or her.

Statute of Limitations

It’s important to be aware that there are time limits to file a lawsuit. The time limit, known as the statute of limitations in legal terminology, will depend on state laws as well as the cause of action for the lawsuit. For this reason, it’s important to consult an attorney or look up the laws of your state when considering whether or not to file a lawsuit.

The clock for the statute of limitations of a particular cause of action can start running at several different times. Three of the most common times that the clock can start to run are: the date of harm, the date of discovery of the harm, or the date you should have discovered the harm. The date of harm is when the actual injury occurred, such as the date of the car accident that damaged your car. The date of discovery can occur when the injuries or damage could not have been ascertained until a later date. Finally, the date you should have discovered the harm is when a reasonable person would have discovered the harm. Generally speaking, you can look up the laws of your state to find out when the statute of limitations begin for the particular harm you have suffered.

Hiring a Litigation Attorney

If you believe that someone should be responsible for the personal injury, property damage, or monetary loss you have suffered and you are interested in filing a lawsuit, you should contact a local litigation attorney to discuss your options.

How Do I Start a Lawsuit Without an Attorney?

Drafting the Complaint

You start a lawsuit by filing a complaint. In some circumstances, you file a petition or a motion.

The court has several complaint forms that you may use in drafting your complaint. The forms are available online and at the Pro Se Intake Unit. You may also write your own complaint without using a court form.

All complaints must be in English on 8-1/2” x 11” paper and include:

  1. a caption with the court’s name,
  2. the title “COMPLAINT” next to the caption,
  3. a statement of jurisdiction,
  4. claims in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of facts,
  5. the relief sought,
  6. the words “JURY TRIAL DEMANDED” if you want the case decided by a jury at trial,
  7. your signature, address, e-mail address, and telephone number.

Complaints and all other documents submitted for filing must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 (Signing Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Representations to the Court; Sanctions).

Filing and Serving the Complaint

Once you have drafted your complaint, you must submit it either in person or by mail to the Pro Se Intake Unit, along with the filing fees or an application to proceed without prepayment of fees (in forma pauperis). Prisoners must also include a Prisoner Authorization form.

If you pay the filing fees, you must submit a completed summons to the Pro Se Intake Unit for the clerk to sign, seal, and issue. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(b). Once the summons is issued, you must follow the procedures in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 to serve the summons and complaint.

If you request permission to proceed without prepayment of fees and your request is granted, the Pro Se Intake Unit will complete and issue a summons only if the assigned judge directs it to do so in an order of service.

Keeping Your Address Updated

All litigants, including pro se litigants, are required to let the court and other parties to the lawsuit know if their contact information changes. This is to make sure that all case filings can be sent to the correct mail (or email) address. For this reason, you must inform the Pro Se Intake Unit in writing of any change to your contact information.

Note: Federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process.

Charge Filing and Notice of Right-to-Sue Requirements

If you plan to file a lawsuit under federal law alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, or retaliation, you first have to file a charge with the EEOC (except for lawsuits under the Equal Pay Act, see below).

We will give you a Notice of Right to Sue at the time the EEOC closes its investigation. You may also request a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC office investigating your charge if you wish to file a lawsuit in court before the investigation is completed (see below). This notice gives you permission to file a lawsuit in federal or state court.

You Have 90 Days to File A Lawsuit in Court

Once you receive a Notice of Right to Sue, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days. This deadline is set by law. If you don’t file in time, you may be prevented from going forward with your lawsuit.

Exceptions When Filing a Lawsuit

Age Discrimination Lawsuits (ADEA)

If you plan to file an age discrimination lawsuit, you must have filed a charge but you don’t need a Notice of Right to Sue to file a lawsuit in court. You can file a lawsuit in court any time after 60 days have passed from the day you filed your charge (but no later than 90 days after you receive notice that our investigation is concluded).

Equal Pay Lawsuits (EPA)

If you plan to file a lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act, you don’t have to file a charge or obtain a Notice of Right to Sue before filing. Rather, you can go directly to court, provided you file your suit within two years from the day the pay discrimination took place (3 years if the discrimination was willful).

Title VII also makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in the payment of wages and benefits. If you have an Equal Pay Act claim, there may be advantages to also filing under Title VII. To file a Title VII lawsuit in court, you must have filed a charge with EEOC and received a Notice of Right to Sue.

Filing a Lawsuit Before the Investigation is Completed

If you want to file a lawsuit before we have finished our investigation, you can request a Notice of Right to Sue.

How to Request a Notice of Right to Sue:

If you have a registered in EEOC’s Public Portal, you can submit your request by logging in to your charge account and uploading your request. If you don’t have an online charge account, send your request for a Notice of Right to Sue to the EEOC office responsible for investigating your charge and include your EEOC charge number and the names of the parties.

  • After 180 days have passed from the date your charge was filed.
    If more than 180 days have passed from the day you filed your charge, we are required by law to give you the notice if you ask for it.
  • Before 180 days have passed form the date your charge was filed.
    If fewer than 180 days have passed, we will only give you the notice if we will be unable to finish our investigation within 180 days.

If you want the EEOC to continue investigating your charge, don’t request a Notice of Right to Sue.

EEOC Lawsuits

In most cases, the EEOC can file a lawsuit to enforce the law only after it investigates and makes a finding that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, and is unable to resolve the matter through a process called “conciliation.” The EEOC has discretion which charges to litigate if conciliation efforts are unsuccessful, and ultimately litigates a small percentage of all charges filed. When deciding whether to file a lawsuit, the EEOC considers factors such as the strength of the evidence, the issues in the case, and the wider impact the lawsuit could have on the EEOC’s efforts to combat workplace discrimination. Congress also gave individuals the right to file a lawsuit in court.

Locating an Employment Attorney to Assist You in Filing a Lawsuit

Upon request, the EEOC offices can provide you a list of local attorneys who have indicated to EEOC they specialize in labor and employment law; the EEOC does not make specific recommendations.

The following organizations also provide directories of attorneys who represent workers if you are considering filing a lawsuit:

This chapter explains how to start a lawsuit under Section 1983 or Bivens. It explains what legal papers to file as well as when, where, and how to file them, and it provides forms and examples to guide your writing. It also explains what to do in an emergency when you need immediate help from the court.

Chapter Five: Table of Contents

Section A When to File Your Lawsuit

Section B Where to File Your Lawsuit

Section C How to Start Your Lawsuit

Section D How to Serve Your Legal Papers

Section E Getting Immediate Help from the Court

Section F Signing Your Papers

The next chapter, Chapter Six, discusses what happens after a suit is started. Neither chapter gives all the rules or procedures for this kind of suit. These details are in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules can be found in Title 28 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). There is an annotated version of the U.S.C., called the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.), which gives short summaries of important court decisions which interpret each rule. The U.S.C. will only have the text of the Federal Rules, but the U.S.C.A. will give some explanation and cases and is probably more helpful to you. Chapter Seven explains how to use the U.S.C.A. and other law books.

The Federal Rules are not too long, and they are very important. When we refer to a specific rule in this Handbook, you should read the rule if you possibly can. The rules are revised every few years, so be sure to check the “pocket parts” in the back of the books in the U.S.C.A. or read a current copy of the paperback.

You may find reading the rules frustrating since they are written in very technical language, and even lawyers and judges can’t always agree on what they mean. For this reason, you may want to refer to a book that explains the Federal Rules and explains the court decisions that interpret the Rules. If your library has it, a good book to look up questions in is Wright and Miller’s Federal Practice and Procedure. You may also want to read the Advisory Committee notes which are printed in some editions of the Rules. These notes explain the purpose of the Rules and how they are supposed to work.

Have you been wronged, hurt, or had a life-altering accident caused by a company or organization’s negligence? If so, make sure you or your loved one is compensated for any decline in your quality of life, lost wages, or medical bills.

Just the thought of filing a lawsuit against a company may seem overwhelming. However, we will provide you with a guideline to make sure you are in the best position to file and win your case.

What Type of Lawsuit Do You File?

Different situations call for different types of cases – some civil actions and some criminal actions.

Civil law differs from criminal law, which deals with robbery, assault, murder, kidnapping, etc. Lawsuits against companies are generally considered civil lawsuits. Civil law cases cover breaches of contract, violations of company trademark, defamation of an individual or company, and more.

Common Reasons to File a Lawsuit Against a Company

  • Illegal termination
  • Breach of contract
  • The company misled a consumer concerning a product or its financial condition
  • Injury caused as the result of a defective product or unsafe premises
  • Harassment while volunteering, working for, or patronizing a business

Many companies can be sued and held liable for failing to meet expectations or protecting your rights and for violating federal, state, and local laws. Hospitals, schools, charities, corporations, government agencies, and others all must ensure you are protected from preventable harm and harassment.

How to file a lawsuit

Filing Your Lawsuit

Let’s review the process to file your civil lawsuit.

#1 – Gather Evidence

Even if you have hired a personal injury attorney, it is still in your best interest to gather as much evidence as you can.

Evidence includes any correspondence such as emails, certified mail receipts, phone records, photographs, video, etc. In addition to that, individuals can also use police, medical, and insurance records to back their claim.

#2- Hire an Attorney

An attorney works behind the scenes gathering evidence to build a case to ensure the best possible outcome. Following that, your attorney will present your lawsuit to the court and will represent you in settlement discussions, and file any needed motions to help you win your case.

#3- File a Claim

The state of Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the incident for you to file a claim. Therefore, you must get an attorney to file your complaint with the court as soon as possible. The complaint will be filed and specifically list what the defendant did or failed to do that caused you harm. In addition, the claim will include the legal reason for holding the defendant responsible.

Filing and receiving compensation from a lawsuit is best handled when you are prepared and know what to expect. To achieve a positive result, your attorney will partner with you to develop a strategy representing your best interest. Your assistance in providing knowledge of all facts relevant to the matter that led to the lawsuit is vital. The attorney can then provide expertise on the legal issue, the trial process, and other options available to resolve the claim.

If you think you might have a claim against a company but are unsure of your next steps, please contact the experienced attorneys at Siniard, Timberlake & League. We can help.

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Although we handle cases throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, our primary practice areas are in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee. We serve the following localities: Colbert County including Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals; DeKalb County including Fort Payne; Etowah County including Gadsden; Jackson County including Scottsboro; Lauderdale County including Florence; Lawrence County including Moulton; Limestone County including Athens; Madison County including Huntsville and Madison; Marshall County including Albertville, Boaz, and Guntersville; and Morgan County including Decatur and Hartselle. In Tennessee we serve Giles County including Pulaski; Lawrence County including Lawrenceburg; Lincoln County including Fayetteville; and Franklin County including Winchester.

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

Before you decide to file a lawsuit against your contractor, you should provide them with a written list of your complaints and needs, including a deadline for them to respond to you. Additionally, you may want to consider a mediation process, which is usually less expensive than court action and often brings a faster resolution.

To file suit against a contractor, file a summons & complaint

If necessary, you can file suit — with or without an attorney — by doing the following:

  1. Obtain a Summons & Complaint form. L&I does not supply these forms. They may be found on some, but not all, court Web sites, clerks’ offices, or for purchase in office supply or stationery stores. Call ahead to make sure they are available. The forms can be hard to find. Also, if you get your forms from an office supply store, call the Superior Court to make sure the store’s form covers the requirements of your suit.
  2. Complete the form as directed. You can include any legal fees, court costs or interest in the summons and complaint.
    • To collect from the contractor’s bond, you need to name the bond company as a defendant, and include the contractor’s bond number on the form. Be sure to include: the contractor’s business name, all owners, the business address and contractor registration number. If an assignment of savings is on file instead of a bond, you need to list the bank name and account number in your complaint.
    • Get all the necessary information on the contractor, their bond and bond company, through our Verify a Contractor tool.
  3. File your form with the Superior Court in the county where the work was done. The court will charge a filing fee of approximately $200.00 and will stamp the form with a cause number.
  4. Have your summons and complaint served — a legal must.
    1. To serve the contractor’s bond: You must send to L&I three copies of your Summons & Complaint form. Include a $52 check made out to the Department of Labor & Industries—the processing fee. Send by certified or registered mail to: Dept. of Labor & Industries – Contractor Registration, PO Box 44450, Olympia, WA 98504-4450.
    2. L&I will serve the contractor and the bond company with the lawsuit.
    3. To serve the contractor and/or his business you will need additional copies of the summons and complaint served through a third party. See the phone book for process servers.
    4. L&I will send copies of the transmittal letters back to you as proof of the contractor having been served. The suit is only for the amount available in the surety bond.
    5. Keep a copy of the Summons & Complaint for your records.
    6. When your case concludes, if you win, you must send a copy of the Judgment and Order to Labor & Industries within 10 days of the judgment or settlement. If the contractor wins, they are responsible for sending us a copy of the settlement or judgment within 10 days.

Once these steps are complete, L&I will no longer be involved with the case, other than as a record keeper.

If you are planning to sue another person or entity, or if you have been sued, you should learn about the key steps in the legal process. The specific procedures may vary depending on your state, but civil lawsuits follow a certain basic trajectory from the initial complaint until the trial. The party bringing the case is known as the plaintiff, while the party being sued is known as the defendant. You should be aware that most cases end with a settlement before trial, which is a more efficient, less risky option than entrusting the outcome to a judge or jury.

Before you sue, you may want to think about sending a demand letter to the potential defendant. This can help you save the costs of litigation and solve the issue without the stress of a formal dispute. Read more here about how to craft a strong demand letter.

Complaints and Answers

The first step in a lawsuit is filing the complaint and serving it on the defendant. The plaintiff will outline their version of events in the complaint and describe how the defendant’s actions harmed them. They will ask for monetary compensation or another remedy, such as an injunction. The plaintiff will arrange for service of process by an officer of the court, which involves providing the defendant with the complaint and a summons. The summons offers a basic description of the case and informs the defendant of their deadline to respond.

The defendant then will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint with an answer. They must file their answer within the required time period, or the court will enter a default judgment against them. The answer will provide the defendant’s version of events, admitting any statements by the plaintiff that are true and denying all of the plaintiff’s statements that are not true. It also can raise any applicable counterclaims against the plaintiff. Read more here about complaints and answers.


The process of gathering evidence in a lawsuit is known as discovery. This allows each side to get a better understanding of their position and develop strategies for the litigation. It also can promote the settlement process by revealing the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Discovery often involves depositions, which are interviews in which a party or a witness answers questions about the case under oath. It also may involve interrogatories, which are written sets of questions provided by one party to the other party or to someone else with knowledge of the facts in the case.

Other discovery tools include requests for admissions and requests for production. Each party can send requests for admissions to the other party to narrow the issues in the dispute. If the opponent admits that a fact is true or that a document is genuine, these points no longer need to be litigated. Requests for production allow a party to get access to tangible evidence that is relevant to the case. Read more here about the discovery process.


At any point before a case reaches trial, either party or both parties can try to end the case by filing a motion with the court. Most often, the defendant files this type of motion, and the plaintiff opposes it. If the defendant believes that the plaintiff does not have a valid case, they can bring a motion for judgment on the pleadings at the very outset of the case. Similarly, the defendant can bring a motion to dismiss if they identify a procedural problem with the case, such as an issue involving the court’s jurisdiction or the statute of limitations. A motion for summary judgment can be brought later in the process if either party feels that there are no material facts in dispute, and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Sometimes the losing party in a trial will bring a post-trial motion to correct an apparent error. They might file a motion for a new trial based on a material problem with the proceedings. Or they might file a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict if the jury’s verdict was clearly not based on the evidence. However, both types of motions are challenging to win. Read more here about motions before and after trial.


You may have come across many trials in television or literature, but they rarely happen in reality. If the defendant cannot get the case dismissed, the parties usually will settle rather than taking their dispute all the way to trial. Each party has a right to a jury trial in most cases if the plaintiff is seeking monetary compensation, although the parties can agree to waive this right. Jury selection is a complex process that involves asking jurors questions to identify their likely biases. The parties also can exclude a limited number of jurors for reasons other than bias, within the limits provided by the Constitution.

A trial begins with opening statements by each side and proceeds through the presentation of evidence, including witness testimony. Each side can cross-examine the other side’s witnesses, and then the party that called the witness can conduct a re-direct examination. The plaintiff presents their case first, and then the defendant may ask for a directed verdict if they believe that the plaintiff has not made an adequate case. If this motion is denied, the defendant will present their case. Finally, each side will make closing arguments and propose jury instructions to the judge. Once the jury instructions have been determined, the judge will provide them to the jury, which will deliberate and return a verdict. Read more here about how trials unfold.


If the losing party in a trial is unsatisfied with the outcome, they can consider appealing it to a higher court. An appeal usually will need to identify a specific legal error and show how it resulted in the outcome. An appellate court will not reverse a jury’s decision unless there was a reversible error. This means that the outcome would have been different if the error had not occurred. An appellate court usually will not reverse the decision of a judge in a lower court unless they abused their discretion.

A losing party can appeal not only a trial verdict but also any other final judgment that ends the case. If the court granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment, for example, the plaintiff can appeal that ruling. The appeals court would review the record in its entirety in this situation, including the facts as well as the law. Read more here about the appeals process.

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You may feel a bit nervous or confused when you begin legal action. Or even wary of hiring a lawyer. We get it. Understanding the process helps, so you know what to expect when you choose Hendler Flores Law as your law firm. Here are the main steps in the lawsuit process:

1. Preliminary Interview with a Lawyer

During the preliminary interview, a Hendler Flores lawyer will ask questions to decide if you have a case:

  • Specifics about your injury (why, how, when and where)
  • The circumstances that caused your injury (the why, how, when and where of the exposure)
  • The effect that your injury has had on you and your family – physically, financially and emotionally

2. Formal Agreement of Representation

If you decide to hire Hendler Flores Law, we request each of our clients enter into a written agreement that spells out the terms of our relationship. You may also need to sign release forms that allow us to access personal records needed for your lawsuit, such as medical and social security records. If we think it would strengthen your position to team up with other strategic partners, we will ask for your written permission before we share our fee.

3. Follow-Up Interviews and Conversations

As we get into the facts, we’ll ask for additional information. We might need your help, for instance, identifying doctors and other healthcare providers, family members, friends and co-workers and witnesses who can give us additional valuable information.

4. Filing the Lawsuit

Once these steps are complete, Hendler Flores Law will decide on the best place to file your case. This decision involves a number of strategic considerations—Where were you injured? Where is the responsible party located? What location may offer the best chance for a positive outcome? When the choice is made, we file your lawsuit with the court.

5. Discovery

After the case is filed, “discovery” begins. Discovery is the formal legal process for collecting evidence about your case. Specific rules of court control the process. A lot happens during the discovery phase. Hendler Flores Law will create a game plan—a case strategy—to identify the required evidence, determine the witnesses needed to give depositions, and establish the best negotiating strategy to reach a possible settlement of your case.

Some discovery is written. All sides will exchange written questions and answers as well as relevant documents. We may meet with you to provide written answers to the other side’s questions. As we gather evidence, we might ask you to provide more information or to verify information you’ve already given us.

Other discovery involves live testimony in the form of a “deposition”. Depositions are formal interviews given under oath and recorded by a court reporter. Most lawsuits involve a lot of depositions of the people on all sides—doctors, experts, fact witnesses and family members. Depositions are attended by all the attorneys involved in the suit and may later be used in court as testimony. You and the witnesses who will help you in your case may be asked to give depositions. Before the deposition, your Hendler Flores lawyer will prepare you to answer questions the other side may ask, so you know what to expect.

At the same time, we will prepare your case for trial. We are skillful negotiators, and the better prepared we are for trial, the more the other side will want to negotiate an agreement to pay you the compensation you need and deserve. This is the longest phase of the lawsuit—often lasting months, as the lawyers for all sides gather evidence, coordinate depositions and attend hearings. All throughout, Hendler Flores Law will give you updates on the status of your lawsuit.

6. Settlements or Trial

Most cases settle before trial because a negotiated settlement is usually better than the uncertainty of a verdict for both sides in a lawsuit. It is your decision whether to accept any settlement offers. If your case does go to trial, it can easily take a few weeks or more. You may be asked to testify in court. But you don’t need to worry; all you have to do is tell the truth. As with your deposition, your Hendler Flores lawyer will help you understand the kinds of questions to expect and advise you on how to tell your story to the jury.

From start to finish, it may take two to three years to complete the lawsuit process. When your case is filed in a busy court, it can be two years or longer before you get a trial date. Though the process can be lengthy, you do not have to feel lost or alone. If you choose Hendler Flores Law to represent you, our lawyers and staff will be there to support you—providing information, assistance and counsel—through each step of the process.

Learn How We Can Help

If you or someone you love has suffered catastrophic injuries, contact our office today. We’re here to listen as well as to help you learn more about your legal options. Let us use our years of experience with difficult cases to help you recover the legal compensation you deserve.

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“Trial by jury is the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

Civil Action Steps

While all cases are unique there is a symmetry which is universal to all lawsuits. From the filing and service of a summons and complaint to start an action to the discovery phase including the all importation deposition and concluding in the trial. Along the way, settlement is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

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How to File a Civil Case in NYC

What follows is an outline of the pivotal points in the lawsuit. There are too many variables to assume that the outline is definitive in any respect. What it does is highlight for the potential client the stages/steps in litigation and where along those stages settlement comes into action.

Discovery is an important phase of the pre-trial portion of the litigation. It is the single most time consuming and contentious time in the litigation. It is during these skirmishes that counsel on each side takes stock of his opponent and the relative merits and short comings of his client’s case. The single most significant event is the deposition. Considerable space is devoted to the preparation that we find necessary to prepare our client to do their best at the deposition.

Call us toll-free at 866-502-9091 or contact our offices to schedule your FREE consultation with an experienced New York City trial lawyer.

The Civil Lawsuit Process: From Start to Finish

A civil lawsuit is different than other lawsuits as it is based on non-criminal terms. Typically, a plaintiff (the person initiating the lawsuit) files a complaint against the defendant (the person being accused) based on contractual incidents or accidents. The plaintiff is usually looking to recover money or to allow/disallow certain acts. The following process explains the steps of a civil lawsuit.

Step 1: Consult With Representatives

If you are considering going to court, talk to your potential representatives before filing a lawsuit. Your attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid case and if it will be likely to make it to court. These consultations are confidential, making it easy to confide every detail of the case to your attorney. Your attorney will help you determine if you need to file your case with a federal or state judge.

Step 2: File Complaint / Pleading

After consulting the case with a professional, the plaintiff then files the complaint with the court and serves the defendant a copy of the complaint. This complaint “describes the plaintiff’s damages or injury, explains how the defendant caused the harm, shows that the court has jurisdiction, and asks the court to order relief.” The defendant can then file an answer to the complaint or file a counter-claim.

Step 3: Discovery

Once both parties have completed the pleading process they will begin to gather information to strengthen their case. The goal for both parties is to enter the trial with as much information as possible. This is typically the longest part of the civil lawsuit process.

Sometimes, the parties will voluntarily resolve their issues before going to court through resolutions such as mediation or negotiations. In some work or insurance contracts requiring arbitration, both parties must settle the dispute before going to court.

Step 4: Trial

The trial process starts by both parties filing a brief describing their argument and the evidence they will present. During the trial, lawyers present the case to either a jury or a judge, starting with an opening statement outlining each party’s argument–beginning with the plaintiff. The parties present their evidence and call witnesses to the stand if there are any. After the case has been presented in full, the plaintiff and defendant will make closing statements.

Step 5: Verdict

Depending on your trial type, the jury or judge deliberates your case and the verdict announces the verdict. A party can choose to challenge the verdict and motion for a new trial. This is common during jury trials because they don’t always understand the law or legal definitions.

Step 6: Appeal

If a party does not agree with the verdict decided during the trial, they can appeal and present their case to an appellate court. This court will review the lawsuit and look for discrepancies. They will then either affirm the verdict or find an error. If an error is found, the appellate court may reverse the verdict or order a new trial.

Every civil lawsuit is different and there is no set timeline to expect for your case. Even the initial step of filing a lawsuit is time-consuming. However, at Hopkins Roden, we work exceptionally hard to resolve your situation diligently and are conscientious of your time.

How to file a lawsuit

How to file a lawsuit

If you have tried everything else in a business dispute and nothing has worked it may be time to consider bringing suit against the counterparty with a civil lawsuit. But before you decide you want to sue someone, there are some things to consider.

How Civil Lawsuits Work

Civil lawsuits in which one party sues another work differently from criminal trials. This isn’t the television show Law and Order. Some civil lawsuits are tried before a jury, but many are tried before a judge. And many are settled out of court, to save money on legal fees and court costs.

Civil Law vs. Criminal Law

Civil law deals with disputes between individuals, including businesses.

The difference lies in the laws for each. For example, civil law might deal with a contract, and those are primarily governed by state statutes. Criminal laws deal with offenses against the government, like murder or kidnap.  

The most common type of civil lawsuit is a contract dispute. The two parties have a contract and one party breaches the contract (doesn’t do what they said they would do). For example, an agreement to buy products or services is a contract, as is a contract for the sale of a business or an employment contract. A lease is also a contract and either party in the lease can sue the other.

While most employment lawsuits are against employers, an employer can sue an employee for such things as breach of contract or violation of a restrictive covenant.

If the amount of money is small, you may be able to take your case to a small claims court. Each state has specific dollar limits for small claims court.

Who Is It You Want to Sue?

Is it a person, a business, or more than one? Knowing who you want to go after is important because it can determine the amount you may get from the lawsuit. It will also help you decide if the difficulty of suing that person or company is worth the time, effort, and cost.

You need to know where the person or business lives or does business, to establish jurisdiction (where the case will be tried). If you can’t find someone, it’s difficult––and more costly––to start a lawsuit.

How Much Do You Expect to Get From This Lawsuit?

The costs for any lawsuit involve court costs and legal fees. In small claims court, you may not need an attorney but there are still court costs to pay to file the lawsuit. If the costs are higher than the amount you might get, it may not make financial sense to sue.

Consider how the other person cost you and be realistic. If there was little damage, the amount you get won’t be much.

Can You Reasonably Expect to Get Your Money From the Defendant?

In many small claims cases, the party that gets the judgment—the court’s decision on the amount owed—has a difficult time getting the money because the defendant has nothing to give. As the old adage goes, “you can’t get blood from a stone.”

Is the Other Party Continuing to Harm You or Your Business?

You may need to get an injunction even before starting a lawsuit––or at the same time––to keep the other party from doing something to harm you. For example, in a trademark case, you might need to stop someone from using your company’s trademark. An injunction is a court order, and you will need an attorney to create the injunction and get the court to enforce it  .

Steps in a Civil Lawsuit: Doing It Yourself

  1. Determine who you are suing, as noted above. You will need to go through the process for all parties and the process must be followed for each party.
  2. Then find the right jurisdiction. You must figure out the court where the lawsuit must be tried; the jurisdiction. Jurisdiction may depend on where the defendant or the plaintiff lives or where the event took place. Jurisdiction may also be based on the type of case, like small claims, or the type of crime, like defamation. Jurisdiction gets complicated in internet lawsuits and in cases where there are multiple parties involved.  
  3. Create a demand letter explaining your case and exactly what you want (usually in money). This letter is for the court and the defendant.
  4. Complete the court forms and register your claim with the court. The forms and filing process depends on the jurisdiction. Court costs are involved here.
  5. Get a date on the court calendar.
  6. Serve papers on the defendant, including a summons to appear in court on the date set by the court and your demand letter. Usually, an officer of the court (a sheriff, for example) serves the papers.

All of these steps are different depending on the jurisdiction and each party you are suing must have a copy of the demand letter and be served with papers. State laws usually apply, and every state has its own specific processes, forms, and court costs.

Avoid Free Legal Forms

Avoid Free Legal Forms

You can find lots of websites that offer free legal forms for your state, but these forms have dangers and pitfalls. They are generic and rarely can cope with more complicated lawsuits. You may risk spending money only to find that something vital was missed.

Get an Attorney

You can save money by doing these steps yourself, and you may be able to sue someone without an attorney, especially if you can use small claims court. But the more money involved and the more complex the case, the more you need an attorney. Try to find someone who is experienced in the type of law relating to your case (contract law, employment law, or labor law, for example) and someone who has experience with litigation (trying cases in court).

Filing the Lawsuit

If you’ve determined that a lawsuit is your only option, and you’ve found the perfect attorney to try your case, then you’re ready to get those legal gears turning. In this first stage of the lawsuit (known as the pleadings), your attorney writes a document (called the complaint) that:

  • describes the basic facts of your case
  • names everyone involved
  • references the legal theory to back up your claim
  • states what you want as the outcome (money, an agreement of action, etc.)

You (the plaintiff) and the person you are suing (the defendant) are known as the parties of the lawsuit. There can be more than one person on either side of the suit. In fact, there can be many defendants and many plaintiffs. For example, you and some of your co-workers might decide to sue the company you work for. If you all have the same complaint and seek the same outcome, this will work fine, and you will all save money on legal expenses. If not, you need to file separately. In cases where there are potentially hundreds of plaintiffs, then a class action suit may be considered (see About Class Action Lawsuits).

There are two court systems in the United States — state court and federal court. If your case involves someone from another state (known as a diversity case) and has a value over $75,000, then it MAY go to federal court. If your case involves some sort of federal law or right (known as federal question), it can also go to federal court. Federal question is more fully defined as “jurisdiction given to federal courts in cases involving the interpretation and application of the U.S. Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties. Other than that, you’ll probably go to state court. Unless, of course, your case involves both federal and state laws, in which case you can go to either state or federal court.

How do you determine where the suit will be filed? If you are seeking monetary compensation of less than $5,000 (in many states), you can take your case to small claims court. In small claims court, there is no jury, and you can’t bring an attorney, although you can meet with one prior to the court date. The process is quick and a lot less complicated than in other courts. Since states differ in their rules on what qualifies for small claims court, check with your local Clerk of Court to find out what the requirements are in your area.

For larger cases, there are different levels of courts. These different courts have different jurisdictions. The decision of where your case will be heard is either out of your hands, because there is a legal requirement that the suit be brought to a particular court, or your attorney gets to recommend one.

If the attorney has the choice of courts, then, in addition to considering where the case should be heard (geographically), whether the case should be heard in state or federal court, and at which level it should be heard, the attorney will also consider other aspects such as how convenient the court is, who the judge is, how quickly the court can hear the case, how complicated a court’s process is, etc. It is here that the attorney’s knowledge and experience with local courts and judges can come in handy.

Once the complaint is completed, it is filed in the selected court. This really gets the ball rolling — and it gets the attention of your adversary, now known as the defendant. The filed complaint has to be delivered to the defendant. This is called service of process. In addition to the complaint, the defendant will also be served a summons. The summons explains what the defendant needs to do as a result of the complaint. This whole process is usually referred to as serving the defendant.

Sometimes it is difficult to track down the defendant. When this is the case, constructive service is necessary. This means the documents can be mailed to the defendant’s workplace, last known home address, and/or posted in the newspaper under the “Legal Notices” section.

The Defendant’s Response

Once the defendant has been served, he must respond to your complaint within 20 to 30 days (depending on the jurisdiction) by filing responsive pleadings. One type of responsive pleading is called an answer. In that document, the defendant might totally deny the complaint, deny certain parts of it, point a finger at someone else not named in the complaint, point out technical problems in the complaint itself, etc. In other words, an answer’s purpose is to somehow modify the complaint.


If the Defendant’s responsive pleading isn’t an answer, then it must be in the form of a motion. A motion introduces some other question to the court that the judge must rule on. Motions can be filed at any time during the trial up until the final judgement is made. The party who initiates the motion is called the mover, and the other party is called the opposing party. When one party files a motion, the opposing party can file a request for the judge to deny the motion. For example, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss if:

  • There is no legally sufficient claim in the complaint that warrants the award the plaintiff is requesting
  • The court lacks the subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction for the case
  • The court isn’t of the proper venue
  • There has been a problem with the process itself


The defendant may also file a countersuit against the plaintiff, which makes the plaintiff the counter-defendant. This begins a new complaint process; however, the two cases will be heard as one lawsuit.

If the defendant’s response isn’t filed within the allowed time (usually 20 to 30 days, but can be less in some courts), your attorney may ask the judge to enter a default judgement, meaning that you will be awarded everything you requested in the complaint. However, judges often allow the defendant additional time to file responsive pleadings if there is a good reason for not getting it done on time.

Once the pleadings are filed, discovery begins.

How to file a lawsuit

Class action lawsuits provide harmed people with many benefits, such as allowing large groups of similarly affected people to come together and file a lawsuit against the same company. This provides strength in numbers for all of the people harmed, typically by large corporations, or businesses that have a vast reach.

These types of lawsuits support individual claimants who would otherwise not have the means to pursue a claim on their own. But when groups of people harmed by the same company come together and file as one group, they have the opportunity to hire an attorney to seek justice from the negligible party.

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

When a group of people who have been injured in a similar manner file a single lawsuit to seek compensation as a group, this is known as a “class action lawsuit.” You may also hear these types of cases referred to as “multi-district litigation” or “mass tort litigation.” Often, these cases are filed against manufacturers whose negligence caused injuries to consumers.

For a free legal consultation, call 800-709-1441

Why Do People File Class Action Lawsuits?

Class action lawsuits can give your seemingly small claim more opportunities when combined with other similarly affected people. In turn, class action lawsuits help the courts by not having to hear every single small claim that comes their way. People can file these types of lawsuits for a variety of reasons that cause harm, such as:

  • Defective medication
  • Illegal business practices
  • Employee discrimination
  • False advertising
  • Breach of contract

There are many ways you can benefit from a class action lawsuit, and working with class action lawsuit lawyers can make this daunting process far more manageable.

What Are the Benefits of Class Action Litigation?

When you pursue litigation during a class action lawsuit, it will not cost you nearly as much as if you attempted to file an individual claim. That is because all of the plaintiffs are splitting the costs equally. This helps to cut costs for all parties. Plaintiffs will likely also pay on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no fees unless you win the case.

After you spend thousands going up against a large company, your claim could end up only being worth a few hundred dollars. Class action lawsuits help victims avoid this risk.

How Can I Get Compensation with Class Action Lawsuits?

Once you have started a litigation process with the lead plaintiff taking legal action with your group’s attorney, the road to potentially earning financial compensation is easier for you and your loved ones.

Depending on the case’s judgment, the plaintiffs may receive awards for financial compensation. While class action lawsuits may include many plaintiffs, that does not stop each member from receiving damages.

When looking into financial compensation, it is important to consider when to sue the business with your fellow plaintiffs. That is because there is a risk of the company or defendant going bankrupt. You may want to try to join a class action lawsuit sooner than later, as the first group of plaintiffs to file may be the only ones who receive compensation.

Is a Class Action Lawsuit Worth It?

Even in cases with minor damages, it may be worth your time, money, and resources to join a class action lawsuit. If you have minor injuries or other damages from a large company’s negligence, these issues can affect many other people, too. A class action lawsuit can allow you to pursue financial compensation for your damages.

Additionally, the cost of hiring an attorney for your lone damage against a large company might not make sense financially.

Through class action lawsuits, going to court with multiple plaintiffs fractionalizes the cost compared to filing on your own. The court will still hear your voice and issues, regardless of how small your damages are. You and your attorney can begin to consider other affected party members and build a class action lawsuit.

How Do Class Action Lawsuits Work?

A class action lawsuit combines many claims into one, making the entire process much smoother and quicker for all parties involved. There will only be one judge operating under one courtroom.

During a class action lawsuit, the group of harmed people will assign their lead plaintiff to file the lawsuit on behalf of all party members. This lead plaintiff can also work alongside their lawyer during litigation and can communicate updates back to the entire group.

The lead plaintiff, or the class representative, allows the other party members to have a passive role throughout the litigation. This is efficient for the group’s attorney, too, who then only has to communicate with the class representative throughout the litigation.

How Do You File a Class Action Lawsuit?

To start or join a class action lawsuit, you will need to have a consultation with a lawyer who specializes in class action law to review your claim. If we determine you have a valid case, we will prepare and file a complaint on your behalf. We will guide you through the settlement process and fight to get you fair and adequate compensation.

How Do you Start a Class Action Lawsuit?

To start a class action lawsuit, your personal injury lawyer will file a claim with the court. In your claim, your attorney will formally request that the court certifies the potential claimants in your case as being their own class. Once that happens, other injured parties will be free to join your claim.

At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, we can help you fight back against big and powerful companies, citizens, or local governments. You do not need to feel intimidated by the class action process. To see how Ben Crump Law, PLLC can help you, reach out to a member of our team today for your free case review.

Class Action Lawsuits FAQ:

A class action lawsuit encompasses a group of people who have experienced similar effects or damages from a negligent product, an environmental hazard, or a discriminatory practice. This type of

According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 23, there are a few attributes that can let you know what qualifies for a class action lawsuit: Suing individually would make it

While there is no specific number necessary to file a class action lawsuit, too few participants may keep the courts from certifying a class, according to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by exposure to a deadly chemical known as asbestos. The first signs of mesothelioma will appear many years after exposure, and these signs may include chest

If you have been treated unfairly by someone, you may have already considered filing a lawsuit against them. A lawsuit is often the most effective ways to get redress for the wrong you have suffered. However, the process is often long, and rarely simple. This article will outline the civil litigation process in Ontario.


In order to file a lawsuit, you must first file a Statement of Claim. This document outlines exactly what wrong you have suffered, and what you are asking the court to do to make it right. Even at this early stage of the proceedings, critical decisions about timing and location have to be made. For example, if you wait too long to bring an action the court may tell you that your action is ‘statute-barred’, and prevent you from filing your lawsuit. This is because the courts don’t want to be tied up listening to arguments about things that happened many years ago. Generally, if you are going to seek a legal solution, it is a good idea to bring your lawsuit as soon as you have discovered that someone has wronged you.

You must also file in the correct location. If your lawsuit has to do with an incident that happened in Ottawa, the court is typically not going to let you file a statement of claim in Toronto. If you do try to file in a location different than one where the incident occurred, your opponent may move for an order forcing you to re-file your lawsuit in the city or town where the incident happened. A qualified lawyer can assist you in making sure that your suit is filed correctly, and on time.

Your opponent is allowed to, and virtually always will, file a statement of defence in response to your statement of claim. The statement of defence tells the court why the defendant disagrees with you and why they think they should not be liable. If a statement of defence is filed, the trial is on.


Not so fast. Before you can go to court and start shouting “Objection, your honour!” both sides have to know exactly what they are arguing about. That is what the Discovery process is for. In Discovery, both sides have to produce all the documents they have that pertain to the alleged wrong, and share them with the other side. Depending on the complexity of the action, the process of documentary discovery can be very long and drawn out.

During discovery, your lawyer will also have seven hours to question the defendant on any matter relating to the action. The flip side is that your opponent’s lawyer also gets seven hours to question you on your version of the facts, your statement of claim, and your documents.

This can be a gruelling process, but by the time it is done both parties should have a pretty good idea of exactly where the points of disagreement are. Doing all this work during Discovery can help make the trial shorter. By narrowing down the issues during Discovery, lawyers at the trial will only have to argue about the most important points of disagreement.


The next step before actually getting to trial is to have a pre-trial conference. This conference is held in front of a judge (but not the same judge who will be hearing the trial). Both parties must attend the pre-trial conference. The conference sets the tone of the trial to come. The judge and the disputants discuss the possibility of a settlement, where the issues in dispute can be narrowed, and how long the trial is expected to last. Once this conference is done, and assuming no settlement can be reached, the matter will (finally!) proceed to trial.


It should be noted that the Rules of Civil Procedure allow both parties to bring motions either before or during a trial. Motions primarily have to do with procedural matters. However, each motion takes up a lot of time, because they often require the preparation and filing of a whole new raft of documents.

In some cases, a hearing on a motion can be almost like a ‘trial within a trial’. For example, the defendant may move a Motion for Summary Judgement if they are convinced that you do not have a case. However, in order to prove that you have no legal basis for your claim, the defendant has to essentially argue the entire issue in front of the judge – thus creating the ‘trial within a trial’. After the long road to finally get to trial, motions can slow the process even further.


Assuming that both parties are still disputing the matter at this stage, the action will get to trial. The trial may be before a judge, or before a jury. In fact, the trial will probably be a lot like what you have seen in the movies: opening statements will be made; witnesses will be examined and cross-examined; both sides will present closing statements. At the end of the trial (which can last many weeks) the judge or jury will make a decision.

The courts in Ontario are some of the best in the world. If you cause is just you can expect that the court will, more likely than not, rule in your favour.


Once the judge has ruled in your favour, you can finally put this legal matter behind you, right? Well, unfortunately that is not always the case. Your opponent may choose to appeal the decision. If that happens, then you cannot collect on your judgement until the Court of Appeal has disposed of the appeal.

But even this does not end the matter. Even though you have a judgement in your favour, your opponent may refuse to pay up. There are numerous legal avenues available for enforcing a judgement in your favour. In the case where an unsuccessful defendant refuses to pay up, the assistance of an experienced lawyer may be necessary. A qualified lawyer can use a wide variety of tools and mechanisms for enforcing your claim, and ensuring that you get the recompense you deserve.

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Before you file a lawsuit against a state agency, you have to do certain things. One of those things is filing what they call a Notice of Tort Claim.

In Indiana, the statute requires that if you’re going to sue a government entity civilly, whether that’s the state of Indiana, whether that’s a municipality like the city of Evansville, the city of Indianapolis, the city of Fort Wayne, you have to send a notice of tort claim. That notice includes various requirements which you’re alleging the witnesses involved, the claim of money that you’re seeking.

If you do not file that, then the government entity can file a motion to dismiss a complaint that’s filed in court. So it is a precondition to filing a complaint. Before you file a complaint, you have to do certain things, and you have to do certain things within a certain period of time.

The government knows these hurdles, and they know the requirements. They know that if you don’t do then, what action they need to take in order to put their client and the government in the best position possible.

You need counsel that knows these rules and knows how to put you in the best position possible. You need to seek out an individual that is knowledgeable, and that’s why the attorneys here at Keffer Hirschauer are skilled in this area of the law and understand it well. That’s why reaching out to us is critically important.

How to file a lawsuit

No matter how safe you think you are on the road, there’s always a chance that you’ll end up getting involved in a car accident. Accidents happen all the time. In fact, more than 6 million car accidents happen every year in the United States.

If you’re involved in an accident, your first step should always be focusing on your recovery. Once you’re feeling better and are on the mend, you’ll need to figure out how you want to work with the other driver to get the compensation you deserve. Most drivers choose to file an insurance claim and work things out that way. However, you’re not always locked into the insurance settlement. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver as long as you meet certain requirements. Here’s what you need to know.

You have two years to file a lawsuit

In California, the state gives you two years to file a personal injury lawsuit and three to file lawsuits for property damage. This means if you’re injured in an accident, you don’t have to worry about filing your case immediately. However, it does mean that the clock starts ticking immediately after the accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that two-year window, you’ll forfeit your right to sue the other driver. Once you forfeit, you’re left to cover the damages on your own.

It’s best to file early

Though you have two years under California’s statute of limitations, you should always file a lawsuit as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the better off you’ll be and the easier it will be to make a successful case. Car accident lawsuits are easier to navigate when everything is still fresh in your mind.

Always initiate insurance claims immediately

Though you have two years to file a car accident lawsuit, you should always file an insurance claim immediately after the accident. The first thing you need to do is exchange information with the other driver. Get their insurance information, policy number, contact details, and the make and model of their car before you leave the scene. Once you’re home and safe, call your insurance agent and let them know what happened. They’ll ask you to describe what happened and may request the information you collected from the other driver. Don’t hesitate to ask for their advice on how to proceed with the insurance claim. They’ll help guide you through the process so you won’t have to feel like you’re going through it alone.

Speak with a car accident attorney after the accident

Regardless of if you think you’ll end up filing a lawsuit against the other driver, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You don’t even have to have a completed insurance claim to schedule an appointment. During the consultation, your attorney will be able to review your case and look at the types of injuries you suffered to determine if a lawsuit is an option. If it is and you think you want to pursue the case, file as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to get the settlement amount you need to fully recover from the accident. Remember, people move and tracking down the driver involved in the accident more than a year after the fact can be tough. This makes it hard to pursue a successful lawsuit the longer you wait.

Consider your insurance claim

The two-year time limit on personal injury cases is really only applicable for drivers who aren’t filing an insurance claim. This is because the insurance claim acts as a type of legal settlement between you and the other driver involved. In most instances, you waive the right to sue the other driver for further damages if you accept the insurance company’s settlement. So, what counts as accepting the settlement, exactly? If you cash the check issued by the insurance company after the accident, you’re agreeing that the amount is fair. Once you do, you lose out on your right to sue the other driver for any damages relating to your accident.

You don’t have to rush the process

Ultimately, insurance claims take a while to process completely and you’re not obligated to accept the settlement even after the insurance company offers you one. You’re free to review and contest that settlement with the help of an experienced attorney. This allows you to better decide if the insurance claim is enough to help you cover the cost of repairs and medical treatments. If it’s not, you’ll have time to discuss your options with your attorney and file a formal lawsuit. Throughout the claims process, there are a few things you should do to help you determine if a lawsuit is necessary.

Pay attention to your health

The best thing you can do after the accident, whether you’re filing an insurance claim or not, is to pay attention to your health. If your injuries continue to get worse or you discover new issues weeks after the accident, speak with your auto accident attorney as soon as possible.

Document everything

Get in the habit of documenting everything from car repairs to medical appointments and bills after the accident. You’ll need this information to decide how much money you truly need. Your attorney can also use your documentation as proof that the other driver is liable for the amount you’re requesting.

Get legal help now

Though you have two years to file a lawsuit against the driver that caused your accident, you don’t have to wait the full two years. In fact, it’s always best to start exploring your options as soon after the accident as possible. Whether you’re filing an insurance claim for damages or not, schedule a consultation with the auto accident attorneys at Kerley Schaffer today. We’ll review your case and help you decide if a lawsuit is in your best interest or if you’re better off accepting the insurance company’s settlement.

How to file a lawsuit

Finding yourself or your business in a situation in which you are wondering exactly how to stop a frivolous lawsuit is unfortunately becoming a common occurrence. This is especially true in states like California and in labor disputes, where one side is given a significant advantage and protections. This opens up the potential for more frivolous litigation. What…

Finding yourself or your business in a situation in which you are wondering exactly how to stop a frivolous lawsuit is unfortunately becoming a common occurrence. This is especially true in states like California and in labor disputes, where one side is given a significant advantage and protections. This opens up the potential for more frivolous litigation.

What is a Frivolous Lawsuit?

The official frivolous lawsuit meaning, according to the US Legal system is a legal claim that is filed by any entity or individual who is well aware that the lawsuit has no facts or basis to support it.
Frivolous lawsuits may also be filed to delay other legal proceedings. For example, certain real estate proceedings cannot commence if the real property at issue is involved in a lawsuit. A frivolous suit may be filed for strategic reasons as opposed to meritorious reasons.

If you’re at the receiving end of a similar situation, here’s what you need to know

Stay Calm and Don’t Panic

Before you start to panic and lose sleep over the situation, understand that you’re not alone. Even as you plan on how to stop a frivolous lawsuit, consider these examples.

  • An obese customer suing a restaurant because of the small size of the booths.
  • A client or shopper suing the store to claim compensation for a false or exaggerated injury.
  • A thief breaking into a house suing the owners because he tripped over a wire and hurt himself.
  • A convicted murderer suing his hostages because they escaped when he fell asleep.
  • A woman trying to get back at her ex-boyfriend for dumping her by accusing him falsely of violent behavior.
  • A fellow commuter threatening assault and battery because you mistakenly brushed against her in the bus.

Not only are such lawsuits very common but know that most litigious people simply threaten to take you to court without having the intention to do it. The behavior they display is vindictive and spiteful and typically intended to get back at you by causing emotional and mental anguish along with monetary loss. Whether you are facing a silly lawsuit, a clearly crazy lawsuit or a simply outrageous lawsuit without any basis in reality, it’s important to stay calm but focused.

Count on the Discretion of the Court

Attorneys, judges, and the judicial system are faced with frivolous lawsuits frequently and there are measures to deal with them quickly. In fact, if your attorney were to plead a motion to dismiss, the lawsuit could get thrown out even without being heard. Also, be aware that attorneys who represent litigious people can be sanctioned for filing such frivolous legal actions in court. While there are certainly examples of frivolous lawsuits that actually won, most of them do not end that way.
Here’s another factor: in some states, people who bring frivolous litigation on a frequent basis, are punished and added to the list of “vexatious litigators.” In many cases, filing a frivolous claim will lead to a civil fine and may also lead to a contempt order if you have an attorney who is knowledgeable in this area of law and knows what types of motions to file before the court. Attorneys who knowingly file frivolous lawsuits may also be fined, sanctioned or face suspension of their license to practice law. Abusing the legal system happens frequently but it is not treated lightly. Filing a lawsuit comes with great responsibility. Discuss all these factors with your attorney when discussing how to stop a frivolous action.

Collect All Documents and Evidence

Collect all the communication you had with the person or entity suing you such as contracts, letters, affidavits, signed statements, financial records, and hard copies of emails. Create a written account of your interactions including dates, times, and any other details you can remember. When planning your defense on how to stop a frivolous lawsuit, talk to all the potential witnesses who can testify on your behalf. If you can find professional experts who are not directly involved in the lawsuit, their testimonies can help.

Refrain from New Communication

Make it a point not to contact the suing entity directly or respond if she tries to get in touch with you. Whatever interactions you have must be through your attorney. Do not agree to any claims or give something without checking with your attorney. Work on the assumption that the litigator will try to intimidate you by lying and adding untrue facts to the situation. Also, know that bringing a lawsuit and proving the claim are two different things in court.

How to Stop a Frivolous Lawsuit? Get Expert Legal Representation!

If you’re wondering about how to stop most frivolous lawsuits, you must contact an experienced attorney who can advise you on the best course of action to take. Very often, a wise option is to settle out of court by apologizing or offering a small compensation to resolve the issue even if you were not at fault. But, if you feel that the matter can’t be settled, go ahead and work with your attorney. Remember, depending upon your case, the law may direct the prevailing party in a lawsuit to pay attorney’s fees if it is proved that he sued in bad faith. When someone is threatening you with an illegal lawsuit, remember that with the right legal representation, your rights will be protected.

Commonly Asked Questions About Frivolous Lawsuits:

  • Can you counter sue for a frivolous lawsuit?
  • Can you sue someone for wrongfully suing you?
  • What to do if someone is suing you?
  • What is a litigious person?

How to Deal With Litigious People and Frivolous Lawsuits
Frivolous Lawsuit Law & Legal Definition
The Countersuit: How to Fire Back at Frivolous Lawsuits

How to file a lawsuit

A comprehensive guide to filing a personal injury lawsuit

If you were injured in Tampa, Florida, you are likely considering filing a claim against any individuals or corporations who were responsible. It is important to go over a personal injury case checklist with an experienced accident lawyer near you so you understand what to do next.

Here’s an overview of the 7 phases of a personal injury case:

Phase 1: Immediately after the accident

The very first step is to assess any injuries you or anyone else may have sustained and seek immediate medical attention.

If your injuries were not so serious that you are immobilized or incapacitated, gather as much information about the scene of the accident. Take photos and ask any witnesses to remain at the scene to provide statements.

Make sure to file a written report. After a car accident, this means contacting the police as soon as possible. If the accident was a slip-and-fall in a store, make sure to file a written report with the store manager before leaving.

Phase 2: Seeing a doctor

The next step in the personal injury lawsuit settlement process is to seek follow-up medical care. Many people who are involved in an accident do not experience pain right away. You may realize that you are sore 2-3 days after an accident.

Tell your medical providers about every physical problem you may have experienced, even if you think the pain isn’t severe. Follow up on any referrals and avoid delaying treatment. Medical records are essential for documenting the extent and nature of your injuries.

Ask your doctor what to expect during your recovery, whether or not you will need surgery, how the injury may limit you in the future. and how long your recovery is expected to take.

Phase 3: Hiring a lawyer

Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your claim. An attorney can carefully evaluate your case to ensure that you receive compensation for all damages, including lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship experienced by your family and future losses.

Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation. When you talk to an attorney, make sure you understand what happens in a personal injury lawsuit. Ask about the attorney’s experience handling your type of case in the past. Many personal injury attorneys focus on a particular area, such as motorcycle accidents or cases involving traumatic brain injuries. Choose the best attorney for your particular case.

Phase 4: Negotiating a settlement

Prior to filing a lawsuit, your attorney may attempt to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. You might be asked to sign a release form when settling your case. Don’t sign a release until you know the full extent of your injuries and other losses, because this will prevent you from making any future claims against the defendant.

The amount you can expect to receive will depend on many factors, including the extent of your injuries, whether or not your injury is permanent, if you suffered economic damages (such as the loss of a career) and whether or not you were partially at fault for the accident.

Phase 5: Filing a lawsuit

In some cases, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit against those responsible if settlement negotiations have failed. This may include an individual or a company. An example of a personal injury case that could be filed against a corporation is a defective product lawsuit.

After filing a lawsuit, all defendants must be served with the complaint and a summons. A summons states the amount of time the defendant has to file an answer with the clerk’s office.

The time to file a lawsuit after an incident is limited by Florida’s statutes of limitation. Consult an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is filed in a timely manner.

Phase 6: Going to court

Prior to trial, your case may be set for depositions during which attorneys for both sides and a court reporter will be present. The difference between a court trial and deposition is that there is no judge or jury present.

If your case proceeds to trial after deposition, you may be called as a witness to testify. The most important consideration when testifying is to be truthful in all your statements. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask for the question to be repeated. It’s okay to say you don’t know or don’t remember.

Other witnesses who may testify in court include witnesses to the accident, your medical providers, family members and expert witnesses, such as an accident reconstruction expert.

If you live in the Tampa area, your case may take place at one of the following courthouses:

  • George E. Edgecomb Courthouse
  • Old Courthouse
  • Hillsborough County Courthouse Annex
  • Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse

Phase 7: Filing an appeal

If your case is dismissed prior to trial or if you lose your case, filing an appeal may be the best next step. There are time limits for filing an appeal, so notify your attorney as soon as possible. After you file an appeal, your attorney will submit a brief to the state court of appeals, and the court will issue an opinion on whether or not any errors were made at the trial court level.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a complicated and tedious process. If you’re not familiar with Florida’s laws and procedures, your best chance is to hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney near you who can fight on your behalf.

How to file a lawsuit

You really want to like your new job but one of your co-workers is making it hard. They keep making advances on you. You tell them you’re married and even flash them your ring at one point but it doesn’t stop them.

You decide to talk to your supervisor about it. They promise to get the situation resolved but weeks go by with no results and the harassment is getting worse. So, you talk to HR about it. Still nothing improves. You may have a case to sue your employer for not taking the action that they promised.

You’re not sure how to win a lawsuit against your employer though. It’s not like you’ve ever had to do it. Keep reading to see a few pointers that will help you win.

Steps to Take to Sue

The biggest problem with suing your employer is that it can be quite difficult to prove they did anything wrong. The good news is that most debates like this can be settled before it goes as far as going to court. If it doesn’t though, here are the steps you’ll need to take.

Talk it Out

If you want to avoid your case going to court then the best way to do that is to talk to your supervisor or go to HR. If either of these parties refuses to offer a solution then you can start thinking about a lawsuit.

Review Your Contract

Before you go forward you should read over your employee contract. There may be a special clause that says you have to settle any workplace issues via a grievance procedure.

Document Everything

One of the biggest reasons why these lawsuits fail is that the employee didn’t gather the proper amount of documentation to support their claim. If you’re being harassed in any way, you’ll want to record anything that is said or done to you.

Create an accurate timeline of the events leading up to your lawsuit. If there have been any emails sent to you or by you regarding the incident, make sure that you save them. Speak to your co-workers and see if any of them witnessed the events that happened to you.

Determine Your Claim

There are several different claims that your case could fall under. For example, if a co-worker or supervisor is discriminating against you based on the color of your skin or sexual orientation that’s discrimination. If someone is speaking to you or touching you in an inappropriate way, that’s sexual harassment.

If your employer doesn’t pay you what they promised, that falls under a wage dispute. Use the evidence that you’ve gathered to help you decide what category your case falls under.

Come Up with a Resolution

What resolution you decide on will depend on what claim you’re making. The compensation that an employee gets varies depending on the damage that has been done to them.

Get Familiar With Any Laws Surrounding Your Claim

Do you know what court you need to file your claim in? This is something that you’ll have to figure out in order to successfully sue your employer.

There may be special federal and state laws that surround your claim. You’ll need to do a heavy amount of research to find out.

Find A Lawyer

Now that you’ve gathered all your information, talked to witnesses, and figured out what kind of claim you want to make, you can take your story to a lawyer. They can tell you what direction you can go in and lead you through the entire process.

What to Expect

If you do decide to go through with your lawsuit, it may not go as smoothly as you would like for it to go. Here are a few scenarios that you should be ready for.

The Employer isn’t Afraid of a Lawsuit

Your lawsuit is most likely not the only one that your employer has had to deal with. If this is the case, then going through with your lawsuit may backfire on you because your employer will be prepared to handle it.

They may try to terminate you before your lawsuit goes to court. This is usually against the law but if they’ve had to deal with cases like yours in the past, chances are they will know a legal way around it.

Nothing will Change

If you’re filing a lawsuit, your goals are most likely to stop the behavior from happening and to get policies changed. You don’t want to continue to suffer or potentially watch another employee suffer.

The sad truth is, that even if you get your compensation and win, there is a good chance that nothing will change.

Do You Really Need a Lawyer?

Chances are your employer will have an experienced lawyer on their side. You should have one too. Filing a lawsuit against a company can be a complicated and long process.

It helps to have someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of these types of cases. It will also be really hard to win your case if you try to represent yourself.

How to Win a Lawsuit Against Your Employer

Are you being mistreated at work but you’re not sure how to win a lawsuit against your employer? Winning can be a long and complicated road but if you know the steps to take along it, you should come out victorious.

So take a deep breath, gather your evidence, and go speak to a lawyer. If you don’t, you may have to watch a fellow co-worker suffer from the same problem you’re going through.

Are you still looking for a lawyer help you with your lawsuit against your employer? Call now for a free, expert consultation!

You may be entitled to money from the class-action lawsuit. It’s a quick application online

How to file a lawsuit

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How to file a lawsuit

The TikTok app logo appears in Tokyo. Some users could be eligible to join a class-action lawsuit against TikTok over the collection and use of user data without permission.

Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press

TikTok users all over the U.S. are receiving notifications on the app, informing them they may be eligible for a class settlement payment.

So, if you used TikTok or its sister app before Sept. 30, you can file a claim for yourself or your children who have used the app.

This $92 million class-action lawsuit, filed by the District Court for Northern District Illinois alleges that ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, violated the state and federal law by collecting and using user data without permission.

User information, such as phone numbers, biometric data and locations were saved, according to Newsweek.

Part of the payment will go toward legal fees accrued by the plaintiff. After all the administrative fees, the money will be equally divided among those who are eligible and filed a claim.

  • Utah Sen. Mike Lee set a trap for Snapchat. What happened next?
  • Shopping on TikTok: The app’s upcoming feature

Who can apply?

Anyone who resides in the U.S. and has used the app prior to Sept. 30, 2021, is eligible to make a claim. Illinois residents who used the app prior to that date may be entitled to six-times the payment. This is because the lawsuit specifically deals with claims related to that state.

When can I apply?

You must submit a claim application by March 1, 2022, according to the link sent by TikTok. The final approval hearing is May 18, 2022, and payments will not be dispersed before then.

  • The many paths to success
  • ByteDance, the China-based parent company of TikTok, isn’t going public. For now

How can I apply?

You can apply through an online form email or mail. All you need is your TikTok username(s), and your preferred payment option.

How big will the payment be?

Don’t get too excited because the settlement money will be shared with all users who file a claim. TikTok reportedly has more than 100 million American users, according to CNBC, which means the payout might be in cents.

How to Sue the Federal Government – Lawsuit Against the Fed Government

Do I Have a Case?

If you or a loved one were hurt or died due to the negligence of a federal agency or employee, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) gives you the right to file a claim for your damages. The FTCA provides certain procedural steps you must follow in order to successfully file an injury claim. Before initiating legal action, you should know what you can sue for and how you must go about it.

Your FTCA claim must be against a federal employee, not an independent contractor, for negligent conduct conducted during the scope of the federal employee’s employment. Usually, only claims of negligence and not willful misconduct are allowed under the FTCA unless the misconduct was perpetrated by a federal law enforcement official. State laws where the incident took place must also allow claims to be filed for the tortious action perpetrated against you.

Standard Form 95 – SF95

Before bringing a lawsuit under the FTCA, you must file a Notice of Claim with the federal agency responsible for your injury. A Notice of Claim is an administrative action seeking restitution from the federal government. Using the Standard Form 95 (SF95), claimants will state basic information about themselves; name, address, date, marital status, and employment status.

Additionally, claimants must include information about their accident. SF95 will ask for the time, date, nature of any property damage or personal injury/death. Claimants may list witnesses to the incident and include their addresses. Claimants must list specific dollar amounts of damages they are seeking. A failure to list a specific dollar amount may result in a forfeiture of their rights. Claimants will also be asked about any insurance information to property damaged.

Can a lawyer file a SF95 Notice of Claim for me?

Yes. SF95 forms have a field to identify the legal representative filing your claim. Because there are specific procedural steps to be taken, an attorney familiar with the FTCA can help ensure your paperwork is processed correctly. Attorneys can help claimants with aspects such as:

Time deadlines: Notice of Claims often must be filed within two years of the injury (note: consult with an injury lawyer in order to calculate the filing deadline applicable to you). Utilizing the services of an attorney can help ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner to preserve your rights. Once your claim is submitted, the federal government has six months to make a decision on your claim.

Once the government rules on your notice of claims, you have six months to file a lawsuit if you are not awarded the full amount of money you asked for. Consult with a DC personal injury lawyer to determine which deadline applies to your injury case.

Supporting documents: Notice of Claims usually must include supporting documents for their injuries and/or property damage. Attorneys can assist in collecting documentation recording the extent of the injury, hospitalization, treatment, the degree of any disabilities. In wrongful death cases, you may need to include invoices for burial expenses.

If there was property damage, itemized receipts of repairs performed must be submitted with your Notice of Claim. If the repairs are not performed, two estimates from reliable parties must accompany with the Notice of Claim. Damages for property beyond repaired should include statements as to the date of purchase, original cost, and the value of the property, both before and after the accident. A qualified attorney can help assist claimants will compiling all the necessary paperwork for seeking restitution for damages.

Filing a Federal Tort Claims Act lawsuit

If you do not receive a favorable ruling in your administrative action, you may proceed with a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Your FTCA lawsuit should be filed in the United States District Court which covers the jurisdiction where your accident took place (there may be other jurisdictions where you can file, but as always, we strongly recommend consulting with an attorney prior to proceeding).

Your case will be assigned to an attorney with the United States Department of Justice and an experienced attorney on your side should be familiar will all the legal proceedings and defenses the federal government may use to keep from paying you the compensation you deserve. Under the FTCA, you may not sue the federal government for more money than you asked for in your SF95 Notice of Claim. Retaining a qualified attorney from the very beginning can help ensure you file for all the injury damages you are entitled to.

Federal Tort Claims Act attorneys in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

If you’ve been hurt due to the negligence of a federal entity, The Cochran Firm, D.C. has a team of dedicated and experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our team of seasoned attorneys can guide you through the complicated legal processes of suing the government and maximize your recovery.

We offer free, prompt, and confidential case reviews. Since we represent our clients on a contingency basis, there are absolutely no legal fees unless we recover for you. Call us locally during business hours at 202-682-5800 or at 1-800-THE-FIRM to reach us 24 hours a day. You may also fill out a contact form here on our website. Because of the strict time deadlines associated with pursuing personal injury claims against the federal government, we ask that you please contact us at your earliest convenience in order to preserve your rights.

Obtain Helpful Info from a Trusted Detroit Injury Lawyer

Call Goodman Acker at (248) 286-8100

A common question when filing a claim is, how long will my lawsuit take? There is no one size fits all answer for how long a lawsuit might take, but every lawsuit will go through the same basic steps. Below we have outlined in detail what each step typically is and what you can expect throughout the legal process.

We encourage you to carefully evaluate the above graphic but also want to provide some of the details covered above.

How Long Does a Lawsuit Take?

Personal injury lawsuits require varying time periods to resolve. Some cases are settled quickly, while other more complex cases may take many months or even longer to resolve. Some of the factors that influence the length of time it takes to settle an injury case include the court schedules where the legal action is pending, the complexity of the suit, the nature of the injuries suffered by the victim and the need for ongoing medical treatment, as well as other factors.

Essentially, Each Injury Case Moves Through the Same Series of Steps:

1. Finding and Hiring An Attorney

This step is extremely important, particularly in cases of serious or catastrophic injury.

2. The Investigation

An investigation into the facts is initiated directly after you have retained counsel. Specific data will be collected like:

  • Get accident report
  • Collect medical records & identify injuries
  • Additional care & treatment recommendations, if needed.
  • Determine insurance
  • Write up letter of Retention

3. Ensuring the Patient Gets All Recommended Care and Treatment

It is imperative that the injured person has access to any treatment or care that has been recommended by the medical professionals who assessed his or her condition.

4. Determining the Insurance the At-Fault Party Carries

The insurance company of the responsible party is contacted and the policy limits identified.

5. Pre-Suit Negotiations

The facts are shared with an insurance adjuster, in an effort to get the case resolved quickly and fairly.

A fair settlement offer may be presented at this stage in a percentage of cases. It can be accepted if the client and lawyer agree the offer is fair. An initial settlement offer at a fair level occurs in some cases, and when it does, the offer is accepted and the case is concluded.

6. Filing the Lawsuit

If the insurance company does not make a fair settlement offer, a lawsuit will be filed.

7. Discovery

This process includes:

  • Interrogatories
  • Depositions
  • And developing witness lists and sharing this information with the opposing counsel.

8. Case Evaluation

Prior to the trial, the case is submitted to a panel that is tasked with evaluating the claim.

If the amount determined by the panel is acceptable to the injured person, the case is resolved at this point. If not, the case proceeds to trial. This occurs about 50% of the time.

9. Preparing for Trial

The case is carefully prepared for presentation to a jury, with all relevant facts regarding the degree of the injuries, the long-term consequences to the victim, the facts surrounding the negligence of the responsible party, and all other details.

10. Verdict Settlement

The case is presented in court, the jury reaches a verdict, and the settlement is awarded to the injured party and becomes a court order.

Calculating a Personal Injury Settlement: How Do You Find Out How Much Your Case is Worth?

There are various calculations that must be undertaken to determine the value of a personal injury claim.

A person who has been injured by the acts of another party has the right to recover damages of various types. Such as:

  • Auto Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Dog Bite
  • Disabilities
  • Slip and Fall

All of these damages are carefully evaluated, often with the help of:

  • Medical experts
  • Accounting experts
  • Or other professionals

Who may be needed, based upon the degree of the injuries suffered.

The damages pursued include, but are not limited to:

  • Doctor Bills
  • Hospital Bills
  • Ambulance Costs
  • Nursing Care
  • Medical Equipment Costs
  • Transportation
  • Rehabilitation Costs
  • Loss of Income from Work
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Estimated Future Financial Losses
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Emotional Anguish

Under Michigan law section 600.294A, there is a statutory limit of $500,000 on the amount of non-economic damages that can be paid to a victim in a product liability case.

The state also employs the legal concept of comparative negligence as outlined in section 600.2959 in which the percentage of fault in an accident will affect the value of the settlement paid to the injured person.

If you have questions about how much your case is worth, we invite you to contact Goodman Acker P.C. The firm provides legal services on a contingency fee basis, and has recovered millions in damages for the injured. With 30 years of experience at trial, you can be confident that your legal representation is highly skilled, effective, and has a long track record of results.

Call now or use our online form to submit facts about your injury case. We respond quickly, and we are dedicated to pursuing justice for the injured in Michigan.

  • How to file a lawsuit

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We have been helping accident injury victims in Michigan win the maximum settlement for their injuries for 25+ years.

How to file a lawsuit

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How to file a lawsuit

No Fees Until You Win

If you have been wrongly injured, we would be happy to review the specific details of your case to determine how we can help.

Almost anyone can bring a lawsuit, assuming they have the filing fee and the help of an attorney. But the court may not hear it, for a number of reasons. There may be no case or controversy, there may be no law to support the plaintiff’s claim, it may be in the wrong court, too much time might have lapsed (a statute of limitations problem), or the plaintiff may not have standing.

Case or Controversy: Standing to Sue

Article III of the US Constitution provides limits to federal judicial power. For some cases, the Supreme Court has decided that it has no power to adjudicate because there is no “case or controversy.” For example, perhaps the case has settled or the “real parties in interest” are not before the court. In such a case, a court might dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff does not have “standing” to sue.

For example, suppose you see a sixteen-wheel moving van drive across your neighbor’s flower bed, destroying her beloved roses. You have enjoyed seeing her roses every summer, for years. She is forlorn and tells you that she is not going to raise roses there anymore. She also tells you that she has decided not to sue, because she has made the decision to never deal with lawyers if at all possible. Incensed, you decide to sue on her behalf. But you will not have standing to sue because your person or property was not directly injured by the moving van. Standing means that only the person whose interests are directly affected has the legal right to sue.

The standing doctrine is easy to understand in straightforward cases such as this but is often a fairly complicated matter. For example, can fifteen or more state attorneys general bring a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment that the health care legislation passed in 2010 is unconstitutional? What particular injury have they (or the states) suffered? Are they the best set of plaintiffs to raise this issue? Time—and the Supreme Court—will tell.

Class Actions

Most lawsuits concern a dispute between two people or between a person and a company or other organization. But it can happen that someone injures more than one person at the same time. A driver who runs a red light may hit another car carrying one person or many people. If several people are injured in the same accident, they each have the right to sue the driver for the damage that he caused them. Could they sue as a group? Usually not, because the damages would probably not be the same for each person, and different facts would have to be proved at the trial. Plus, the driver of the car that was struck might have been partially to blame, so the defendant’s liability toward him might be different from his liability toward the passengers.

If, however, the potential plaintiffs were all injured in the same way and their injuries were identical, a single lawsuit might be a far more efficient way of determining liability and deciding financial responsibility than many individual lawsuits.

How could such a suit be brought? All the injured parties could hire the same lawyer, and she could present a common case. But with a group numbering more than a handful of people, it could become overwhelmingly complicated. So how could, say, a million stockholders who believed they were cheated by a corporation ever get together to sue?

Because of these types of situations, there is a legal procedure that permits one person or a small group of people to serve as representatives for all others. This is the class action. The class action is provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 23) and in the separate codes of civil procedure in the states. These rules differ among themselves and are often complex, but in general anyone can file a class action in an appropriate case, subject to approval of the court. Once the class is “certified,” or judged to be a legally adequate group with common injuries, the lawyers for the named plaintiffs become, in effect, lawyers for the entire class.

Usually a person who doesn’t want to be in the class can decide to leave. If she does, she will not be included in an eventual judgment or settlement. But a potential plaintiff who is included in the class cannot, after a final judgment is awarded, seek to relitigate the issue if she is dissatisfied with the outcome, even though she did not participate at all in the legal proceeding.

Key Takeaway

Anyone can file a lawsuit, with or without the help of an attorney, but only those lawsuits where a plaintiff has standing will be heard by the courts. Standing has become a complicated question and is used by the courts to ensure that civil cases heard are being pursued by those with tangible and particular injuries. Class actions are a way of aggregating claims that are substantially similar and arise out of the same facts and circumstances.


Fuchs Funeral Home is carrying the body of Charles Emmenthaler to its resting place at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Charles’s wife, Chloe, and their two children, Chucky and Clarice, are following the hearse when the coffin falls on the street, opens, and the body of Charles Emmenthaler falls out. The wife and children are shocked and aggrieved and later sue in civil court for damages. Assume that this is a viable cause of action based on “negligent infliction of emotional distress” in the state of California and that Charles’s brother, sister-in-law, and multiple cousins also were in the funeral procession and saw what happened. The brother of Charles, Kingston Emmenthaler, also sees his brother’s body on the street, but his wife, their three children, and some of Charles’s other cousins do not.

Charles was actually emotionally closest to Kingston’s oldest son, Nestor, who was studying abroad at the time of the funeral and could not make it back in time. He is as emotionally distraught at his uncle’s passing as anyone else in the family and is especially grieved over the description of the incident and the grainy video shot by one of the cousins on his cell phone. Who has standing to sue Fuchs Funeral Home, and who does not?