A lawsuit is the process by which someone pursues a claim in civil court over some wrong they suffered. It can be complicated to know when to sue, where to file, and how to proceed. It can also be difficult to find the right lawyer for your case.
A lawsuit starts when the plaintiff files a complaint in court with some information about the case. The complaint outlines the plaintiff’s version of events and how they were harmed by the defendant’s actions. It also shows that the court has jurisdiction over the lawsuit and asks for relief, such as monetary compensation or another remedy. The complaint must be “served” on the defendant, which typically requires an officer of the court to hand-deliver it to them with a summons.
Once the defendant receives the complaint they have an opportunity to respond and file any counter-claims. There are often specific rules and deadlines for these filings. The court can then start the discovery process and put your case on a trial date.
During the discovery phase, the parties can request to see documents and have depositions (oral questions answered under oath) of witnesses and experts. Once the case is ready for trial the judge or jury will deliberate for some time and say whether they believe that the defendant was liable and, if so, what the remedy should be. Typically the judge or jury will order that the defendant pay you some amount of money and/or other non-monetary equitable relief.