Do you know how to file a small claims court lawsuit? It's a little more complicated than just placing a phone call and then spending a day in court. There are certain things you're going to have to do, papers you'll have to fill out, and still other papers you're going to have to serve.
If you need help, contact your local court clerk's office (look it up in your local phone book). They should be able to help determine what you need to do. The steps you'll take will differ depending on where you live. Once you file your lawsuit, you'll need to prepare before your hearing.
Once you decide you want to file a suit in small claims court, go to your local court and meet with the clerk. The clerk's office won't always be in the court building itself, but you can get directions to the office when you make your initial phone call.
At a meeting with the clerk, he or she will give you some papers to fill out. You'll file a lawsuit, called a "complaint." You're going to be called the "plaintiff" - it will say this in the papers you fill out. Basically, you are formally complaining that a person or business caused you harm in some way.
Make sure you're suing the right people. This might seem obvious but it can sometimes be confusing. If you have spent a lot of time dealing with an insurance company, you may have forgotten about the person (or "party") who actually caused your injury.
When you file a lawsuit, remember that you're not suing the insurance company. You are taking to court the person who's liable for the incident or injury. Because the insurer is going to be the one paying the damages, they'll be representing the defendant in court.
You've probably seen (either on television shows or even in real life) how people can get served with court papers. Oftentimes, what happens is that a lawyer or a bailiff will hand the papers to the person being sued. (There are also people whose job it is to serve papers, but they themselves are not a lawyer or bailiff.) Different states have different regulations as to how papers are actually served. Oftentimes, they cannot simply be mailed.
Whatever your current area regulations, remember that you're going to be serving papers to the person you're actually suing, not the insurance company that's going to represent them in court.
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