How to File a Lawsuit


A lawsuit is a court case in which you seek a remedy from the legal system for an injury or loss that you have suffered. There are both civil and criminal lawsuits, but this article discusses only civil cases. A civil suit is one filed by an individual who believes that someone else did something wrong to him or her and wants to use the courts to correct the problem.

There are various types of remedies that a judge can award in a civil lawsuit, including money damages (compensatory and punitive) and an injunction. This section also describes the basic legal papers that you must file to start a lawsuit, including the summons and complaint.

It’s important to include in your complaint a concise yet thorough statement of the facts upon which you base your claims. Also, include separate counts for each of your legal claims. Also, cite supporting documents in the complaint — for example, a police report, medical records or the defendant’s product manuals and press releases. Incorporating these documents by reference in your complaint saves you time and effort because you do not have to repeat them in each count of the complaint.

When you file your complaint, you should also allege that the court has subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction and venue over your claim(s). Most of the elements necessary to sustain a legal claim require you to prove that a defendant owed a duty to you, breached that duty, and directly and proximately caused harm.

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