The Basics: How a Lawsuit Begins

Posted December 9th, 2012 by admin and filed in Uncategorized

The legal process is complex and lengthy. But it must start somewhere. Typically, a lawyer initiates the process unless a person decides to represent himself in a small claims court. In this case, he may file it himself. Any case beyond that does requires a lawyer.

A lawyer begins a lawsuit by preparing documents and filing a complaint with the court. The complaint has the plaintiff (the person who is suing) bringing a complaint against the defendant (the person who is being sued). The plaintiff claims the defendant violated some of his legal rights and is seeking the court for justice and resolution.

A summons goes hand in hand with the complaint. The summons is from the court calling the defendant to respond to the charges. The plaintiff causes “service of process” on the defendant. This means a copy of the complaint and summons is delivered to the defendant by a sheriff, process server, or mail. The court’s rules determines how it is delivered.

The Purpose of a Filed Complaint

The complaint’s purpose is to describe what the litigation is about. It crafts the foundation for the jurisdiction of the court. Also, it serves to notify the defendants so they can gather representation and data to support their defense. It defines the issues of the case and what will be relevant to the ultimate decision in the case.

If the lawyer incorrectly makes the pleading or unveils new information, the court typically allows the pleading to be amended. The Federal Rules require a lawyer to sign a pleading and to indicate the pleading is well grounded and that he is acting in good faith and without wrong motives in filing it. Because of this, lawyers take extra care in crafting and investigating the accuracy of pleadings.

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