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Lawsuit Forms For State Court

Lawsuitforms.org is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to helping people gain access to the civil justice system. We provide easy to use forms, templates, and guides for people who are unable to afford legal representation.

Although we would all like to avoid it, sometimes we are forced to get involved in the civil court system and file  or respond to a lawsuit, regardless of whether or not we can afford a lawyer. In these situations, having a competent attorney by your side is always a good idea. But what happens when you can't afford to spend $10,000-$20,000 on an attorney? With access to free legal services being woefully inadequate, many people have no choice but to represent themselves in civil court. Fortunately, this is not nearly as difficult as you may think. Once you understand the basic process and learn a few legal terms, you will see that the legal system is primarily based on simple common sense. Watch our short explainer video or keep reading below to learn more about the basic steps to filing and answering a lawsuit.

Click on your state to take the first step towards representing yourself in court. If you need to file a lawsuit or answer a lawsuit, Lawsuitforms.org provides the forms and guides you will need to represent yourself without a lawyer.

Each package is a 100% digital download (no shipping required). They include state-specific instructions, form templates, and samples. You will be able to file professional pleadings on par with anything drafted by an attorney.

All of our lawsuit packages are currently 20% off and come with a 100% money-back guarantee! Start or respond to your lawsuit today!

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How To File Or Answer A Lawsuit

If you think you have good cause to file a lawsuit, or you have been served with a summons and complaint and need to file an answer to a lawsuit, keep reading to learn about the basic steps of civil litigation.

If this process makes sense to you, you can definitely represent yourself in court and competently file or respond to any civil lawsuit.

Step 1. Drafting the Complaint

In most states, filing a complaint is the first step to beginning a civil lawsuit. This is the document in which you lay out the allegations against the defendant and allege how you have been harmed. Keep in mind that you do not need to try and prove your allegations in the complaint. You are only alleging what happened. Of course, to ultimately prevail at trial, you will definitely need to offer evidence that supports the claims you initially make in your complaint.

However, simply alleging that you have been harmed is not quite enough. You must allege a type of harm that is specifically recognized as a recoverable claim for relief. For example, if you trip and fall in a store, you cannot necessarily sue the store for your damages. The plaintiff will need to allege that the store or its employees were negligent in some manner. Perhaps there was spilled water on the floor for an excessive amount of time. In that case, the plaintiff could likely allege that the store had a duty to keep their floors free of liquid, they failed to perform that duty, and as a direct result of that failure, the plaintiff was injured. Each specific aspect of a claim for relief (sometimes called a ‘cause of action’) is known as an ‘element’ of a claim. If a Plaintiff can prove each element of their claim, they should win their case. Similarly, if a plaintiff has been physically attacked by someone, they can probably bring a civil lawsuit for battery if they can allege that the person physically contacted them and they suffered harm as a result of that physical contact.

The elements used above are general examples only. A plaintiff needs to research the individual elements of any and all claims they wish to bring against a defendant and make sure they properly allege facts that, if proven, will satisfy each element of their claim (the best place to research elements of specific claims is your local law library).

Some examples of common claims for relief are:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Negligence
  • Unpaid Wages
  • Wrongful Termination
  • Race/Sex Discrimination
  • Disability Discrimination
  • Battery
  • Trespass
  • Nuisance
  • Defamation (slander/libel)
Civil Complaint Form

Once the elements of a claim are known, they need to be written up in a complaint in the proper format. If your complaint is not formatted correctly, it may be rejected by the court clerk! The exact format varies from state to state, but usually includes the following:

  • A 'Case Caption' with basic information about the case.
  • A 'Statement of Jurisdiction', wherein you inform the court why this particular courthouse is the proper venue for your case.
  • ‘Facts Alleged’, wherein the plaintiff alleges all the facts that constitute the elements of their claims.
  • ‘Claims for Relief’ wherein the plaintiff states how the allegations, if proven, will constitute a legally cognizable claim (such as negligence, or battery).
  • ‘Prayer for Relief’, wherein the plaintiff asks the court to award a specific remedy, such as economic or non-economic damages.

Once the complaint is written and your claims are properly alleged, you will need to properly serve a copy of the complaint (along with a summons in most states) on the Defendant. Rules of service must be followed precisely. 

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Step 2. Filing an Answer to the Summons and Complaint

If the defendant does not file an early motion, they will need to respond to the allegations in the complaint. Once served, they will need to file an answer within the time indicated in the summons (usually around 30 days). If they ignore the summons, then the plaintiff will need to seek a default judgment from the court. If such a judgment is granted, the defendant will be forced to pay the plaintiff all of the damages they alleged in their complaint, regardless of whether or not they are accurate.

If an answer is filed, the defendant will either admit or deny the specific allegations made against them in the complaint. They will also lay out any valid affirmative defenses and counterclaims they may have against the plaintiff.

Answer to Civil Complaint
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Request for production of documents

Step 3. Engaging in the Discovery Process

After an answer has been filed, both sides will engage in ’Discovery’, where they are required to disclose information to each other that is relevant to any claim or defense. These disclosures are usually made by each party sending the other a 'Request for Production of Documents’ wherein they ask for specific documents that are relevant to the case, such as payroll records, emails, written contracts, etc. Our Civil Lawsuit Packages contain forms, samples, and instructions on how to send and respond to requests for production.  Discovery often includes depositions of witnesses as well.

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Step 4. Presenting your Evidence in Court

After discovery is complete, a hearing or trial will be set and both sides will present their case to a judge, jury, or private arbitrator. This includes submitting exhibits and interviewing witnesses. Evidence that is submitted must comply with the state's rules of evidence, otherwise it will likely be excluded by the judge or arbitrator.

Once both sides are finished presenting their claims and defenses, the judge or jury will find in favor of one party or the other.

How to represent yourself in court

Conclusion

This is a general overview of how to file a lawsuit in state court. Of course, the specifics of any case can be a bit more complex, but if you understand these basic concepts, you will be able to represent yourself competently with our easy to use, state-specific guides.

They will show you how to file a lawsuit, send and respond to requests for production, introduce exhibits, offer objections, and interview witnesses at a hearing or trial. All without an attorney. Start your lawsuit today!

California Civil Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in California
How to file a lawsuit in California
California Civil Complaint Sample
California Civil Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in California
How to file a lawsuit in California
California Civil Complaint Sample

California Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
Florida lawsuit forms
How to file a lawsuit in Florida
Florida lawsuit sample
Florida lawsuit
Florida lawsuit forms
How to file a lawsuit in Florida
Florida lawsuit sample
Florida lawsuit

Florida Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
Georgia Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation Georgia
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court
Georgia Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation Georgia
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
Illinois Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Illinois
How to file a civil complaint Illinois
Illinois civil complaint sample
Illinois Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Illinois
How to file a civil complaint Illinois
Illinois civil complaint sample

Illinois Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
File a lawsuit answer a lawsuit
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
Michigan Complaint Example
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
File a lawsuit answer a lawsuit
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
Michigan Complaint Example

Michigan Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
New Jersey Lawsuit Forms
How to file or answer a lawsuit in New Jersey
New Jersey Lawsuit Guide
New Jersey Civil Complaint Sample
New Jersey Lawsuit Forms
How to file or answer a lawsuit in New Jersey
New Jersey Lawsuit Guide
New Jersey Civil Complaint Sample

New Jersey Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
New York Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in New York
How to file lawsuit New York
New York civil complaint sample
New York Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in New York
How to file lawsuit New York
New York civil complaint sample

New York Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
North Carolina Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in north carolina
How to file a lawsuit in North Carolina
North Carolina Civil Complaint Sample
North Carolina Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in north carolina
How to file a lawsuit in North Carolina
North Carolina Civil Complaint Sample

North Carolina Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
Ohio civil lawsuit forms
Ohio lawsuit forms
Ohio Lawsuit Guide
Ohio civil complaint sample
Ohio civil lawsuit forms
Ohio lawsuit forms
Ohio Lawsuit Guide
Ohio civil complaint sample

Ohio Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
Oregon lawsuit forms
How to file a lawsuit in Oregon
How to file a civil complaint Oregon
Oregon civil complaint sample
Oregon lawsuit forms
How to file a lawsuit in Oregon
How to file a civil complaint Oregon
Oregon civil complaint sample

Oregon Lawsuit Forms

$34.99
Pennsylvania lawsuit forms
Intro to civil litigation in Pennsylvania
How to file a lawsuit in PA
Pennsylvania civil complaint sample
Pennsylvania lawsuit forms
Intro to civil litigation in Pennsylvania
How to file a lawsuit in PA
Pennsylvania civil complaint sample

Pennsylvania Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
Texas Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Texas
How to File a Lawsuit In Texas
Texas civil petition sample
How to answer a lawsuit in Texas
Texas Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Texas
How to File a Lawsuit In Texas
Texas civil petition sample
How to answer a lawsuit in Texas

Texas Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
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