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Chanfrau & Chanfrau

Starting a Lawsuit: Filing Papers

By William Chanfrau, Jr. on February 12, 2016

Signing a legal documentThe lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau have helped countless injury victims throughout the Daytona Beach area with the complexities of the legal process. Filing personal injury lawsuits can be a very difficult thing for clients, especially if they are injured, recovering, or mourning the loss of a loved one. That's why our attorneys will be there every step of the way.

We'd like to go over the various parts of the legal process so clients have some basic understanding of how our system works. Let's begin by looking at the initial filing of papers.

Note the Statute of Limitations on Your Case

Statutes of limitations are in place when it comes to many kinds of civil lawsuits and criminal lawsuits. This statute of limitations means that there is a set amount of time following an incident during which a lawsuit can be filed. This helps ensure fairness in the legal system.

It is of the utmost importance that you file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Failure to do so may mean that you are ineligible to file a legal claim. This is why it's imperative that you set the wheels in motion as soon as possible.

Filing a Complaint/Petition

A complaint (aka a petition) is often the first legal document that is filed in a case. This complaint outlines the plaintiff's claim against the defendant. In this complaint, the parties involved are outlined, the facts of the case are stated, and the nature of the legal claim is conveyed. The complaint will also often contain a demand for judgment/prayer of relief in which the plaintiff will request of the court that the defendant pay damages or be subject to other kinds of legal sanctions.

A Summons and Service of Process

A summons is an official court document that informs the defendant of the plaintiff's legal intentions. This document will often outline a set amount of time for the defendant to reply to the summons and take appropriate action.

This summons must be served to the defendant, which means delivery of the document upon positive identification of the defendant. Once the summons is served, the court is given jurisdiction over the case as well as the defendant in said case.

An Answer: The Defendant's Response to the Complaint

The answer is the defendant's official response to the plaintiff's legal complaint. The answer typically can take three forms: admitted, denied, or insufficient knowledge to admit or deny. In some cases, the defendant's answer may outline reasons why the defendant should not be held legally liable for the incident outlined in the complaint.

Counterclaims and Cross-Claims

In some cases, a defendant may have a claim against the plaintiff and issue a counterclaim against the plaintiff. These counterclaims are similar in form as the initial claim. As such, plaintiff's will have to offer an answer to the defendant's counterclaim.

Additional complexities arise when more than two parties are involved, with additional complaints filed. This is known as a cross-claim.

How Attorneys Can Help You in This Process

As you may have noticed, the papers filed in legal cases can result in some serious complexities, ones which laypeople are unable to handle on their own. Because of these issues, it's important to seek legal guidance from a skilled attorney. Working with a lawyer will give you peace of mind as you set your lawsuit in motion. You will receive expert counsel as the process unfolds, with a full explanation of your best options to consider in your case.

Speak with the Lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau

For more information and expert legal counsel, we encourage you to contact our personal injury law firm today. The lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau are here to help you make smart choices in the legal process.

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