Frequently Asked Questions
How do I file a lawsuit?
Filing a lawsuit can be a complex and daunting process, but it’s essential to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Whether you’re seeking compensation for damages or trying to resolve a dispute, following the proper steps is crucial for a successful outcome. In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to file a lawsuit, including tips for a smooth and stress-free process.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Determine if You Have a Valid Case
Before filing a lawsuit, you need to determine if you have a valid case. This means you must have a legal reason to sue and be able to prove it in court. Some common reasons for lawsuits include breach of contract, personal injury, discrimination, property damage, or injuries caused by defective products.
Consulting with a lawyer is a good first step if you’re unsure about the validity of your case. Many law firms like the team at Schiffman Firm provide free consultations. Our experience attorney can provide an expert opinion and help you decide if it’s worth pursuing legal action.
Step 2: Prepare Your Case
Once you’ve determined that you have a valid case, the next step is to gather evidence and prepare your case. This includes collecting relevant documents, such as contracts, medical records, and witness statements.
It’s also crucial to keep detailed records of all communication related to your case, including emails, letters, and phone calls. This can help strengthen your case and provide evidence in court.
Step 3: Choose the Right Court
Depending on the nature of your case, you’ll need to determine which court to file your lawsuit in. The court you choose will depend on the type of case and where the incident occurred.
For example, if you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll typically file in the state where the injury occurred. If you’re filing a lawsuit for breach of contract, you’ll typically file in the state where the contract was signed.
Our team has put together a great guide on the difference between state and federal courts that you can read here.
Step 4: File the Complaint
The next step is to file the complaint with the appropriate court. The complaint is a legal document that outlines the details of your case and the relief you’re seeking.
You’ll need to pay a filing fee when you file the complaint, which can vary depending on the court and the type of case. If you can’t afford the fee, you may be able to apply for a waiver.
Step 5: Serve the Defendant
After you file the complaint, you’ll need to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons. This informs the defendant that they’re being sued and provides them with a deadline to respond.
There are different ways to serve the defendant, including in-person service, mail service, or through a process server. The method you choose will depend on the court’s rules and the location of the defendant.
Step 6: Respond to the Defendant's Answer
After the defendant receives the complaint, they have a certain amount of time to respond. They can either admit to the allegations, deny them, or provide a counterclaim.
Once you receive the defendant’s answer, you’ll need to review it and determine your next steps. This may include negotiating a settlement, filing a motion, or proceeding to trial.
Filing a lawsuit can be a complicated process, but following these steps can help ensure a smooth and successful outcome.
Remember to consult with a lawyer to determine if you have a valid case and to guide you through the process. By preparing your case, choosing the right court, filing the complaint, serving the defendant, and responding to the defendant’s answer, you’ll be on your way to protecting your legal rights and achieving the justice you deserve.
For a more in-depth look at the litigation process, check out our article What is litigation and how does it work?
If you ever find yourself in the need of legal representation or if you need to speak with an attorney, please reach out to the team at Schiffman Firm. Our attorneys offer free consultations and can help guide you through every step of the legal process.
Answered By:Attorney Daniel Schiffman
More About Daniel:
Daniel S. Schiffman, a partner at Schiffman Firm, is a litigator who practices primarily in the fields of personal injury, product liability, and business litigation. Attorney Schiffman is licensed to practice law in all Pennsylvania state courts (60 judicial districts) and all three of Pennsylvania’s federal district courts.
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Which Law Firm Handles Product Liability and Defective Product Personal Injury Claims?
With over 100 years of collective legal and trial experience, the team at Schiffman Firm has been a leader in providing trusted legal representation to injured victims and other types of clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
With a focus in product liability cases caused by dangerous and defective consumer and commercial products, our attorneys bring vast amounts of experience and expertise to victims and families that have suffered an injury caused by defective products like, but not limited to: