If you have been injured or wronged by another person, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit in Maryland to seek compensation. Civil lawsuits are different from criminal cases, which are brought by the government to punish people for breaking the law. In a civil lawsuit, you are suing another person for damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file a civil lawsuit in Maryland:
- Determine if you have a case. Before you file a lawsuit, you should talk to a lawyer to see if you have a valid legal claim. A lawyer can review your facts and assess your chances of success.
- Choose the right court. There are two main types of courts in Maryland: District Court and Circuit Court. District Court has jurisdiction over small claims cases, which are cases where the amount in controversy is less than $5,000. Circuit Court has jurisdiction over all other civil cases.
- File a complaint. The first step in starting a lawsuit is to file a complaint with the court. The complaint is a legal document that sets out the facts of your case and the legal claims you are making against the defendant. You can find complaint forms on the Maryland Judiciary website.
- Serve the defendant. Once you have filed a complaint, you need to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons. This is a legal document that informs the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against them and that they need to respond to the complaint within a certain period of time. You can serve the defendant by having a sheriff or process server deliver the documents to them in person.
- Discovery. After the defendant has been served, the discovery process begins. This is a process where both parties exchange information about their cases. Discovery can include things like interrogatories (written questions that the other party must answer), requests for production of documents, and depositions (oral testimony under oath).
- Trial. If the case is not resolved before trial, it will go to trial before a judge or jury. At trial, both parties will have the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments. At the end of the trial, the judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is liable for your damages and, if so, how much money you should be awarded.
Q: How much does it cost to file a civil lawsuit in Maryland?
A: The filing fee for a civil lawsuit in Maryland depends on the type of case and the court where it is filed. For example, the filing fee for a District Court lawsuit is $100, while the filing fee for a Circuit Court lawsuit is $250. You can find more information about filing fees on the Maryland Judiciary website.
Q: Can I file a civil lawsuit without a lawyer?
A: Yes, you can file a civil lawsuit without a lawyer. However, it is important to consult with a lawyer before you file a lawsuit to make sure you understand the process and your rights.
Q: How long does it take to resolve a civil lawsuit?
A: The time it takes to resolve a civil lawsuit varies depending on the complexity of the case. Some cases may settle within a few months, while others may take years to go to trial.
Q: What are my chances of winning a civil lawsuit?
A: Your chances of winning a civil lawsuit depend on the facts of your case and the strength of your evidence. It is important to consult with a lawyer to assess your chances of success before you file a lawsuit.
Q: What happens if I win my civil lawsuit?
A: If you win your civil lawsuit, the court will enter a judgment in your favor. This judgment will award you a certain amount of money in damages. You can then collect the judgment from the defendant.
Q: What happens if I lose my civil lawsuit?
A: If you lose your civil lawsuit, you will not be awarded any money in damages. You may also be ordered to pay the defendant’s court costs and attorney’s fees.
Filing a civil lawsuit can be a complex and time-consuming process. However, it may be necessary if you have been injured or wronged by another person. If you are considering filing a civil lawsuit, it is important to consult with a lawyer to discuss your case and your options.
- Maryland Courts: How to File a Civil Action: https://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/how-file-civil-action
- Maryland Legal Aid: Civil Lawsuits: https://www.mdlab.org/
- Legal Services Corporation: Filing a Lawsuit: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/fact-sheet-restriction-barring-lsc-funded-lawyers-bringing-class-actions