General Civil lawsuits may be filed in cases that are requesting damages for up to $25,000.00. These damages may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, financial or other losses. A Summons and Complaint is required to file such a lawsuit. The Summons consists of a form packet that is filled out and must be filed with a Complaint. Carbon paper must be provided if not using form packets. A Complaint is a drafted document citing the entire basis of the lawsuit as well as a summary of the damages being required. Exhibits are documents that support the claim and need to be submitted with the filing. Most of these cases are prepared by an attorney on behalf of the plaintiff.
The filing fees with this type of case depend upon the amount of damages being requested:
Once the lawsuit is prepared, it is filed with the court and the filing fee paid. The court can arrange for the defendant to be served or the plaintiff’s attorney may arrange for service. The plaintiff has 91 days to have the defendant served before the Summons will expire. When the defendant is personally served, he or she must file an Answer within 21 days of having received the Summons in order to receive a court hearing. A copy of the Answer is to be submitted to the court and the plaintiff.
After the court has received the Answer, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled. If an Answer is not filed, the plaintiff will request a Default Judgment that will be entered against the defendant. The judgment will be signed and mailed to all parties. The defendant then has 21 days to file a Motion to Set Aside the Default judgment or make other arrangements with the plaintiff. If the 21 days has passed, the plaintiff then may take actions to collect the judgment.
Either party may request a jury trial by filing a Demand and Request for Jury Trial. These documents may be filed with the lawsuit or filed with the Answer. A Demand for Jury Trial must be filed and submitted with a $50.00 filing fee. The court then can schedule a jury to be brought in if needed.