Suing Someone

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Checklist — If You Are Suing

  1. Talk to the person or business you are thinking about suing. Try to work things out before going to court. You can also write a “demand letter” that asks the person or business in writing what you are asking for. Get help with a demand letter.

  2. Try mediation or other alternatives to lawyers and courts. You can try mediation throughout your case, even if it does not work now.

  3. Consider if going to court can give you what you want. If you win in court, the court cannot collect the money for you. Is the person you are suing able to pay?  If you want to sue a neighbor because the neighbor behaves badly, will suing make the neighbor behave better? Courts cannot force good behavior. Will the time and money it takes to go to court be worth the likely outcome? Ask yourself these questions before filing your claim so you do not find yourself worse off after suing than if you did not sue at all.

  4. Learn about how small claims court works. Go to the courthouse and watch a small claims hearing. That way you will know what to expect. Read this website, get help from your court's small claims advisor and use the different resources this website gives you.

  5. If you decide to go to court, follow these steps:
    1. Figure Out How to Name the Defendant
    2. Ask for Payment
    3. Find the Right Court to File Your Claim
    4. Fill Out Your Court Forms
    5. File Your Claim
    6. Serve Your Claim 
    7. Go to Court

  6. After your hearing, read what to do on the Plaintiff's Post-Hearing Checklist.