To file a breach of contract lawsuit, research the law, prepare a complaint, file it with the court, and deliver copies to the defendant. If you file the suit, you are the plaintiff and the person you are suing is the defendant. Your legal research should cover contract law, rules of procedure, and the rules of evidence. Understanding the laws and rules should help you prepare your breach of contract lawsuit and file it. It is often best to hire a lawyer because laws are complex and it is easy to make a mistake, which could result in a judge deciding against you.
If you choose not to hire a lawyer, your first step is legal research on a breach of contract lawsuit. You need to learn whether you have a valid contract, whether there was a violation of the contract, and what legal remedies you should request. Your research should also tell you whether the defendant is likely to raise counter claims against you, which depends on the facts of your situation. A counter claim is a lawsuit against you, and you must defend against any claims.
Your research should include the rules of civil procedure and local court rules. These areas tell you about deadlines for submitting documents such as motions, how to format documents, and how to conduct discovery. A motion is a document asking the court to enter a ruling or an order on the case such as one forcing a defendant to release copies of documents. If you do not comply with the rules, a judge may throw out your breach of contract lawsuit. Discovery is a process that allows you to obtain information from the opposing party in a lawsuit.
Next, research the rules of evidence. These rules dictate whether a judge allows certain types of information to be used as evidence in court. Evidence includes witness testimony, documents, recordings, or any other physical object. Understanding these rules may allow you to prevent the other side from using evidence that may be damaging to your breach of contract lawsuit.
Prepare your complaint after you finish researching your breach of contract lawsuit. The complaint is a document containing your claims against the defendant. The claims are your version of the facts about the breach of contract. You must prove your claims in court to win your case. The complaint also contains a request for relief, which is a statement asking for a specific remedy such as money damages.
Most jurisdictions require you to prepare the summons. The summons is a legal document that informs the defendant that he must file a response to the complaint within a certain time, which is usually 30 days after receiving the summons and complaint. You may find a sample summons form in the rules of civil procedure, which you can use as a model.
Make copies of the complaint and summons and take them to the court clerk. You must pay a filing fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver. You will learn whether you qualify for a waiver and how to request it from researching the rules of procedure. The clerk date stamps the documents, keeps the originals, and returns the copies to you. The rules usually require a plaintiff to deliver a copy of the complaint and summons to the defendant, so you must hire a private process server or pay a fee to the sheriff’s office, and they deliver the documents on your behalf.