The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

How to File a Civil Suit

The legal process can be complicated. Everyday words like “complaint,” “serve,” and “answer” take on new meaning when used in the context of a legal action. However, the law is not rocket science, and with a little effort, just about anyone can understand how to file a civil suit.

Generally, to start a lawsuit, you will want to make a complaint. This is where you outline your legal issue and make your case against the other party. In this document, you identify the parties involved, the basic facts of the case, and lay out the legal basis for why you are right. In addition, you should end the complaint with what it is you want — money damages, performance of a contract, for your neighbor to cut down a tree, etc.

The complaint is meant to be short and to the point and really just gives notice to the defendant (the person you are suing) of the pending legal action. You do not need to pour on your legal analysis at the beginning of a lawsuit.

After writing the complaint, you will want to serve the defendant with a summons and notice of the lawsuit. This means that you will let the defendant know that he is being sued, what court the suit will be heard, and that the clock is ticking on the time the defendant has to respond.

When you have properly served the defendant your complaint, the defendant will then have a chance to answer. Here, the defendant can admit or deny the allegations in the complaint.

At this point, your civil suit is underway and with the help of a good attorney and favorable facts, you are one step closer to the relief you seek. Keep in mind these are just the very basics of how to file a civil suit, and each legal claim may have its own intricacies.

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