Starting a civil case is no small task. Once you have evaluated your claims to ensure the case is worth pursuing, there are important steps to consider. Here are the things you need to know when starting a civil case.
Organize Your Evidence
One of the most critical aspects of your case is the evidence. Any evidence relevant to your case can assist in a favorable outcome, from witness testimonies and videos to bills and documents. Organizing your evidence can help make it readily accessible for court and at every step along the way.
Find the Right Court to File
Finding the correct court to file a civil lawsuit is crucial, as filing in an incorrect jurisdiction can lead to your case being dismissed. When finding the right court, you’ll want to consider the following:
- Jurisdiction - what is the court’s authority to hear and decide a case? Jurisdiction can be determined from where the court is located, where the lawsuit occurred, or the case's subject matter.
- Venue - the specific geographical location where a case should be heard. Generally, a lawsuit should be filed in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action arose, or where the property in dispute is located.
- Court Level - what level of the court should your lawsuit be heard? Small claims courts are usually reserved for small monetary disputes where clients represent themselves without an attorney, while trial courts are for cases involving more significant amounts of money or more complex legal issues.
Conduct thorough research to follow state and federal guidelines to find the right court to file your case.
Once you have filed with the appropriate court, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms for issuing a summons. The clerk will issue the summons and complaint for which you will have to follow the correct procedure to serve the summons to the other side. You can serve the summons in multiple ways, including a personal delivery or a substituted delivery to a suitable person at their residence or business.
Affidavit of Service
Once you have served your summons, you will need to fill out and submit an affidavit of service, a written form that states how the summons was served. Then you will submit the notarized form to your court and await a court date. In Virginia, the Clerk’s Office will process, and the court will hold the first hearing within 30 to 90 days of filing.
Secure Legal Representation
With these important steps to take when starting a civil case, securing legal representation for your case is important. An experienced civil attorney can help you find the best way to file your case, organize your evidence, correctly serve the summons, and submit documents. The team at Bush & Taylor, P.C. has helped many clients evaluate their potential claims and prepare their cases.
Contact us at (757) 926-0078 or check out our website to learn how we can resolve your legal conflict.