Assuming you’ve read the first two parts of this series about Civil Lawsuits, you’re ready to file and pursue your case. Your complaint will need to be completed with information you should already have handy by now. You will be required to describe the injury and/or damages and how the defendant is responsible. Depending on the award amount you are pursuing, you will have to determine the appropriate court to file your suit. Each state has different requirements and award maximums for small claims court. You can look up your state’s information here. There is a plethora of information on the website Court Statistics Project, which is a project of the National Center for State Courts. You can find cost estimates, reward ranges per court type, current trends, and more helpful data to help you gain a better understanding of the endeavor before you.
The progression goes from small claims court, to district court, to circuit court, then federal court, all depending on the award amount you are pursuing. You will have to file your suit in the state where the offense occurred. Be sure to check for that state’s award range so you file with the appropriate court. After filing, the defendant will need to be served a notice of legal action. You must have a current home or work address, and can serve the defendant via mail, a contract service, through the County Sheriff’s Office, or personally. Check the filing state’s regulations for signature requirements from the defendant.
From here, you and the defendant have a few options. Alternative resolution options, such as mediation, arbitration, and negotiations should be considered. These typically end in a settlement, and are more time and cost efficient than a trial. If both sides of the case waive their right to a trial by jury, your case will be heard and determined by a judge only. This is a bench trial, and is the preferable option if you do not have an attorney representing you. If the trial goes to court, the jury will decide if the defendant is responsible, and assign a dollar amount to compensate for the damages. Regardless of your litigation choice, be sure to know the details of your case and be able to present them in a factual manner, void of your own personal opinion. Here are some tips from Duke University to strengthen your skills in presenting your arguments.
The litigation experts at Action Claim Service, a property claims management company, strive to assist our clients with creating a proactive -not reactive- plan to attain swift resolution to your claim or case. Our property claims adjusters understand how the process works, and can help you make sense of it all. If you need to manage property loss or damage claims, contact us today and let us serve you.