Filing a lawsuit is a daunting task for most. Lawsuits typically involve a large amount of paperwork, and the official names of these documents vary depending on where you live. Following is a brief description of the initial types of paperwork you will encounter during the early phases of your lawsuit.
The Initial Complaint
If you are the person filing a lawsuit against someone else, then you are the plaintiff. The first step in pursuing a lawsuit is filing a complaint against the other party, the defendant. Your official complaint is the document that should formally list all parties involved, the legal basis for pursuing the case, the direct cause for filing the suit and the facts surrounding your case. You should always include the potential resolution, or the amount of damages you are seeking through the suit. This crucial document will be used to provide the defendant with the basis of your claims against them.
Getting Served with a Summons
Once the official complaint has been filed with the court, an official summons will be created. This summons is a court order requiring the defendant to respond to the plaintiff’s claims. The summons informs the defendant that they are being sued and outlines how much time they have to respond to the summons before further action is taken. When this summons is delivered, it’s often called “being served.” Depending on the case, the summons will either be sent through the mail or directly handed to the individual after confirming their identity. The summons also lists outs the consequences for failing to respond. If the defendant in your case refuses to acknowledge the summons, then the case may move forward without their participation.
After the defendant receives the summons, they will have to respond by filing their answer with the court. The defendant’s answer can either admit guilt, deny wrongdoing or claim there is insufficient knowledge to admit or deny. This document may also contain defenses as to why the defendant should not be held liable for the damages described in the complaint. The defendant may also decide to file a counterclaim, or their own claim against the plaintiff which arose from the same circumstances listed in the complaint.
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The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.