To start a lawsuit without a lawyer, you may need to file a verified complaint, along with the specified filing fee. It is the same first step that a lawyer may take in commencing a lawsuit. This step is immediately followed by the filing of a civil summons form.
How to File a Verified Complaint
The complaint serves as the foundation for your lawsuit. It should be organized, factual, and accurate. Within this document, you may explain your claim or cause of action to the defendant (the party you are suing).
Information you provide in the complaint may become the basis for your demand in this civil action. It may outline under numbered and clear terms the events you intend to prove with defined and separate causes of action.
Following this outline, you may insert the “wherefore clause.” This statement specifies the amount of compensation you are seeking, in terms of money, for at least one of the causes of action in your outline.
Finally, you may verify that all the information you are providing is true under the penalty of perjury.
How to File a Civil Summons
You may have to complete a civil summons form, a document that can be found on the United States Courts website, in which you specify the location and the district of the court through which you are filing your lawsuit. This form will also list the name(s) of the Plaintiff (which is you) and the Defendant(s). New York courts also accept Blumberg Form T1480 or T1464, according to the New York State Unified Court System.
The summons will subsequently need to be signed (issued) by a lawyer, court clerk, or judge. Typically, plaintiffs who represent themselves may ask the court clerk to issue their summons.
Next, you may pay a filing fee, and then you will need to make the arrangements to have your civil summons and the verified complaint served on the defendant in your case.
How to Serve the Defendant
The court clerk may not advise you on how to serve papers to the defendant. You may be legally required to follow specific procedures in this process, depending on the types of papers you are serving. In some cases, the court may direct you with a specific method of service, with which you must comply. As the plaintiff, you may not be permitted to serve the defendant personally, but you may hire a professional process server to handle the matter, or you may ask another party who is not involved in your action to serve the papers provided they are over the age of 18 years old.
You do not Need a Lawyer, but You may Want One
Before you take either step, you should consider getting to know more about your rights to file a lawsuit under the New York statute. There is much more to “having a case” than suffering an injury and believing somebody should pay for it.
Before you begin to draft your complaint, you may need to identify the precise legal wrong that forms the basis of your lawsuit. Next, you may have to start digging for the appropriate elements of your case. For example, in a personal injury case, you may need to be able to prove that the person you want to hold liable acted negligently and that this negligence led to your injury. Knowing what New York courts look for in terms of supporting evidence may be vital in building your case.
Furthermore, if your case makes it to court, you may need to know how court proceedings work. The New York State Unified Court System actually requires that plaintiffs who want to go to court without a lawyer “must be fully versed in court procedure, trial, and evidentiary rules.”
Keep in mind that once you are in the courtroom, you are on your own. Court staff is forbidden by law to provide you with any legal advice on your case or the proceedings.
A Products Liability Lawyer may be Able to Help You With Your Lawsuit
If you have suffered a personal injury due to another party’s negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit aimed at getting the at-fault party to cover your damages. Be forewarned that a successful lawsuit may hinge on the proper handling of many different moving parts. Missing an important piece in your case may mean a negative outcome for your lawsuit, as simply missing a deadline could end in the dismissal of your case.
If lawyers’ fees are your motivation for starting a lawsuit without a lawyer, consider that the personal injury lawyers from Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. work on a contingency-fee-basis. This means you would pay no up-front charges and no legal fees unless we win your case. If you win nothing, you pay nothing. With so much at stake, it is worth considering leaving your lawsuit to professionals who know the process and strategy behind building a strong case and litigating it in court to try and receive the compensation you may be entitled to.
Call Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. at (631) 600-0000 for a free case review.