How To File A Lawsuit In New York

How To File A Lawsuit In New York


Thank you for visiting lawsuitforms.org!  In this article, we will go over the basics of how to file a civil lawsuit in New York Civil courts without an attorney.  As you will see, the basics of filing a lawsuit in New York are not nearly as complicated as they first seem.  If you do decide to move forward with your lawsuit, we highly recommend you purchase our New York Civil Summons and Complaint form packet, which includes more detailed instructions, form templates, and samples. 

Drafting The Verified Complaint

As with most other states, filing a summons and complaint is the first step to beginning a lawsuit in New York.  In New York, most complaints should be 'verified', which simply means that you verify the allegations in the complaint are true and not frivolous (to the best of your knowledge). 

The verified complaint 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 New York specifically recognizes as a recoverable cause of action.  Some examples of common civil causes of action in New York are:

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

    You can research the specific facts (elements) of each cause of action that need to be alleged in a complaint at your local law library.  Once the elements of a claim are known, they need to be written up in the proper format.  

    If your complaint and summons are not formatted correctly, they may be rejected by the court clerk! Lawsuitforms.org is the only website that offers state-specific form templates for filing a civil lawsuit.  Most other websites sell overpriced, poor quality, generic forms that are NOT in compliance with state court rules. 

    Most complaints in New York have the following format:

    1. Heading with basic information about the case.
    2. Statement of jurisdiction.
    3. ‘Facts Alleged’, wherein the plaintiff alleges all the facts that constitute the elements of their claim.
    4. ‘Causes of Action’ where the plaintiff states how the allegations, if proven, will constitute a legally cognizable claim (such as negligence, or battery).
    5. ‘Prayer for Relief’, where the plaintiff asks the court to award a specific remedy, such as economic or non-economic damages.
    6. 'Statement of Verification', where the plaintiff affirms under oath that the allegations in the complaint are true and not frivolous.


        Drafting The Summons

        The summons is the official document that requires the defendant to show up and answer the allegations in the complaint. Fortunately, the summons is mostly boilerplate and will be easy to fill out with our pre-formatted forms.  You need to make sure the proper notification language is included so the defendant will know how to respond and where to file their answer.

        Once the complaint and summons have been drafted in the proper style and format, you will need to file them at the appropriate courthouse and pay the applicable filing fee.  They will then need to be served on the defendant. 

        Once served, the defendant will have a certain amount of time to respond by filing an ‘Answer’ to the complaint.  After an answer has been filed, both sides will engage in ’Discovery’, where they are required to disclose information to each other.  These disclosures are made by each party sending the other a Request for Production of Documents (RFP), wherein they ask for specific documents that are relevant to the case.  


        This is just a brief outline of how to file a civil lawsuit in New York.  Of course, the details of any specific case will be slightly more complicated, but as you can see, the basic nuts and bolts of how to file a summons and complaint in New York are well within the grasp of the average person.  Anyone can learn how to file a lawsuit without an attorney.  Our New York Summons and Complaint form package includes more detailed instructions, as well as templates and samples that are already formatted for New York courts.  All our forms are currently on sale for 20% off their normal price!  Follow the link above or click the button at the top of this page to purchase the form package.  Thank you for reading!