The process of filing a lawsuit in Texas can be simplified as four steps:
1. Valid Legal Claim
Similar to most other states, the first step is to determine whether you have a valid legal claim (or "cause of action"). This is a substantive question of law, and usually requires the advice of an attorney to answer.
2. Plaintiff’s Petition
Once you have determined that you have a cause of action, you or your lawyer must write a "Plaintiff’s Petition." In this document, you must tell a Texas Court in clear and concise language what you think the defendant has done to you. You must assert a specific and recognized legal claim, and provide facts to support it. However, you do not need to present or plead any evidence supporting these facts at this stage. You do not even need to swear to their truthfulness. But whenever you submit any document to the court, you are asserting that the facts contained in it are true to the best of your knowledge, information, or belief.
3. File the Plaintiff’s Petition
You must file the Plaintiff’s Petition with the law clerk at the courthouse.
4. Serve the Defendant
Once your Plaintiff’s Petition has been filed, you must serve the defendant with a copy of the petition and citation. The purpose is to put the defendant on notice that they are being sued in Texas, and what they are being sued for. The citation is a document that lets the defendant know that the lawsuit is backed by the power of the state.
Service in Texas is generally accomplished by personal service. A third party with no relation to the lawsuit delivers a copy of the petition and citation to the defendant. Once this is accomplished, that person files an affidavit with the court (known as "proof of service") showing that service has been accomplished.
Consulting an Attorney
A Texas attorney can help you determine whether you have a claim and what is the best legal theory to sue upon. Moreover, he can help you navigate the court system and represent you.