How To File A Lawsuit In Ohio
For more details about filing a lawsuit in Ohio, view our How to File A Lawsuit in Ohio legal guide.
Five Steps to Filing A Lawsuit in Ohio
In Ohio, the 5 basic steps to filing a civil lawsuit in Ohio's Court off Common Pleas include:
1. Filing A Civil Complaint
A complaint is the initiating document that lays out a plaintiff's claims. It informs the defendant and the court how the plaintiff has been wronged by the defendant and how the plaintiff should be compensated. Note that a plaintiff must allege a claim that is recognized under Ohio law (such as negligence, discrimination, defamation, or wrongful termination) and must properly allege the individual elements of each claim.
If your lawsuit forms 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.
In Ohio, most civil complaints have the following format:
- The top of the first page of any pleading will have the name of the court you are appearing in, followed by the case caption section that contains basic information about the lawsuit.
- Below the caption, there will be a simple, introductory This will almost always be, “Plaintiff, proceeding pro se (Latin meaning “for one’s self”) brings this Complaint against Defendant and alleges as follows:”.
- A statement of jurisdiction. Every complaint must state the allegations that will inform the court why bringing the action in this particular county is proper.
- A 'facts alleged' section, wherein you allege facts that (if proven) will satisfy all the elements of your claim.
- Claims for Relief. This is where you spell out each cause of action you have against the defendant.
- Prayer for relief. This is where you spell out exactly what you want the court to award you.
2. Serving the Summons and Complaint
Once the complaint is written and filed at the courthouse, it needs to be served on the defendant along with a civil summons. Rules regarding service must be followed precisely. It is usually a good idea to hire a private process server or the county sheriff to serve the defendant.
3. Filing an Answer
Once served, the defendant will usually have 28 days to file an answer, where they admit or deny the claims made against them and file any valid counterclaims they may have against the plaintiff.
After a complaint and answer have been filed, both parties engage in discovery, wherein they are legally obligated to provide all relevant evidence to the other party. This process usually begins by sending and responding to Requests For Production of Documents. After that, depositions of potential witnesses (including both parties) may be conducted.
After discovery is completed, the case will go to trial, where each party can plead their case to a judge or jury. They will also examine witnesses and submit evidence.
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