Yes, it is possible to sue someone without a lawyer. However, in the majority of cases and depending on the type of case, it may be more difficult than an individual anticipates.
In certain states, an individual cannot hire a lawyer to represent them in small claims court. In the majority of other situations, an individual can and should be represented by a lawyer.
Where and How Do I File My Lawsuit?
A plaintiff, or individual who files a lawsuit, will need to file their lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction. This means that a plaintiff is required to understand the proper venue and jurisdiction for their lawsuit.
It is important to note that civil lawsuits may be filed either in state or federal court, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Once a plaintiff determines the proper venue and jurisdiction for their civil lawsuit, they will have to draft a petition or complaint and file it in the appropriate court.
When they file their petition or complaint, they will also be required to pay the appropriate court fees to the court where they are filing their lawsuit. The next step for the plaintiff is to serve the complaint on the defendant, or the individual or entity being sued.
It may be in the plaintiff’s best interests to hire a lawyer if they have any questions regarding jurisdiction, venue, or how to properly initiate their lawsuit. Experienced civil lawyers can help plaintiffs determine the appropriate jurisdiction and venue, in addition to what the appropriate pleading is based on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
In addition, a lawyer will be able to help a plaintiff properly serve the defendant and to negotiate any pre-trial settlement options on behalf of the plaintiff.
What Else Should I Consider?
There are many important considerations for a plaintiff when filing a civil lawsuit. For example, if there are other ongoing criminal lawsuits against a defendant, the plaintiff may have their civil claims related to the criminal lawsuit put on hold until the criminal aspects of the case are resolved.
For example, if a defendant committed an assault and battery on a plaintiff and the state brought criminal charges against that defendant, the plaintiff will usually have to wait until the criminal process is complete before being able to resolve the civil issues. A plaintiff who suffered as a result of an assault and battery may bring a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant for the injuries they suffered as a result of that assault and battery.
In the civil case, the plaintiff may introduce a copy of the police report as well as other evidence that may have surfaced during the criminal process as evidence of the defendant’s civil liability for their injuries.
How Is a Lawyer Beneficial in the Early Stages of My Lawsuit?
When an individual sues another individual or entity, as noted above, they must file a complaint and serve it on the other party. A complaint outlines the claims the plaintiff has against the defendant.
For example, a plaintiff may sue for:
It is important to note that the complaint that alleges the claims must be filed within a certain time period after the alleged wrongdoing occurred. This is called the statute of limitations.
Different types of claims are subject to different statutes of limitations. If an individual’s complaint is not filed within the legally required timeframe, their claims may be barred and the plaintiff may not be able to recover against the defendant.
Although suing without a lawyer may be possible, lawyers are trained to navigate the complexities of litigation. Further, if the plaintiff does not draft the complaint properly, they run the risk of having your case dismissed.
Can a Lawyer Help Gather Evidence for My Case?
In general, after filing a lawsuit, the next step is the discovery stage. At this point, the plaintiff would seek discovery of evidence, which may include documents or deposition testimony, from the other party.
The other party can request that the defendant turn over evidence or respond to certain discovery requests. An individual’s failure to respond timely or provide sufficient responses may result in monetary sanctions or even a dismissal of the case.
There are numerous rules that govern discovery. It may not be in a plaintiff or defendant’s best interest to tackle these fuels on their own.
A lawyer can determine what type of evidence to seek as well as protect an individual’s interests in terms of discovery requests from the other party. For example, if an individual has certain private information that they are not required to provide to the other party, an attorney can ensure that they are not taken advantage of by providing evidence that the other side is not entitled to receive.
In some cases, when a plaintiff prevails in their case, they may be able to garnish wages of the other party in order to ensure they receive the money they were awarded. A lawyer can help the plaintiff set up the garnishment and ensure it is done correctly.
How Is a Lawyer Helpful in the Trial Stage?
Once the parties complete the discovery stage, the next step is the trial stage. The trial stage may include selecting a jury or having the case heard by the judge.
The parties would have to know many things, including:
- What type of evidence can be presented at trial;
- What types of questions to ask witnesses;
- What objections to make against the other party; and
- General court procedures.
For example, a jury is not always required in a civil case. If a party fails to follow the correct procedures, it may lead to them losing their right to have their case heard by a jury.
Having a lawyer is essential for the most important part of the lawsuit, the presentation of evidence and arguments to the judge or jury who is deciding their case. If an individual is considering settling their case, it is very beneficial to have an attorney handle their settlement negotiations.
This is important because an individual does not want to be taken advantage of by the other side. Lawyers can help the parties understand what rights they may be giving up and what benefits they may be gaining from the settlement.
Do I Still Need a Lawyer When My Trial is Over?
If an individual wins their case, collecting upon the judgment may be difficult or problematic. There are procedures in place that an individual must follow in order to receive their money.
If the losing party refuses to pay, the winning party will have to obtain an order from the court to record a lien on the losing party’s property or to garnish their wages. Post-judgment collection procedures can be complex and stressful, so it is best to have an attorney handle it.
Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?
If you are considering filing a lawsuit on your own and handling your own case, it may be helpful to consult with a lawyer. Your lawyer can provide you with advice regarding handling a case on your own.
In many situations, it is better for you to have a lawyer handle your case to ensure all procedural and jurisdictional requirements are met. There are many issues that individuals who are not attorneys will not be aware of related to handling legal cases that may impact the outcome of the case.