What It Means To “File A Suit” & How To File One In Arizona

Filing a lawsuit is never the first step when it comes to resolving a dispute. Litigation can be costly in terms of both money and time, and it can also cause stress for all of the parties involved.

What Are The Reasons You Would File A Suit?

The most common reason you would file a suit is breach of contract. If you entered into an agreement with someone who did not fulfill their part of a bargain, you might sue to get the damages that resulted from that breach.

A contract that has been breached

The other most common reason for filing a suit in Arizona is for negligence that leads to injury, or sometimes even deliberate actions which lead to injury. This can be for anything from medical bills that arose from a car crash to damages you incurred when someone committed a crime against you.

How Do I Decide Whether Or Not To File A Lawsuit?

Before you even think about it, you need to consider whether you have a case you think can win. There are a lot of questions to ask, such as:

  • Can I prove there were actual damages?
  • Did this person have a legal duty to perform their part of the contract? Was there a legal contract? Did this person owe me a duty, if it’s a negligence case?
  • Can I collect?

Have You Exhausted All Your Other Options?

Most courts are busy with dockets so full that cases are delayed. That is why it is important to be able to prove that you have tried to settle your case before you end up in front of the judge.

a judge in the courtroom

You can start with a letter, which you should carefully document, where you explain to the other party what your demands are. Then there are options for mediation, and there are many places that offer those services at low or no cost. Some contracts even specify that you have to try mediation before filing a lawsuit.

What Does It Mean To File A Suit?

The actual file suit meaning is simple, although the process can be confusing for people who are not familiar with the court system. When you are filing a suit, you are letting the Court know that you have a dispute with another party, and that you want the Court to decide that dispute for you.

a dispute in the courtroom

You as the Plaintiff would file a Complaint, and the person you believe owes you money will be the Defendant in the case. There is usually a filing fee, which helps pay for the court resources.

What Are The Steps In Filing A Lawsuit In Arizona?

Before you even get started, you need to find out what your time limits are. Most personal injury lawsuits have a time limit of two years, and some are even shorter. On the other hand, you can get up to six years to sue for a breach of contract. Unless you have a very good reason for filing late, you will automatically lose if you file past the statute of limitations.

1. Research And Prepare Your Case

There are valid sources online, including the Arizona state laws. If you choose to represent yourself, you will be treated as though you are an attorney, and you will be responsible for knowing all the information about your case. If you are unsure about any aspect of your case, most attorneys offer a free one-hour consultation. Once you know your case, you also need to prepare your documents and proof that will help you win your case.

2. Choose Your Court

This is surprisingly difficult, but you could have your case dismissed by the judge if you bring it to the wrong court. Small claims cases in Arizona can only cover matters up to $3,500, and justice courts can hear cases with damages ranging up to $10,000. State courts can hear claims related to state law, and federal courts will only hear certain kinds of matters. Besides limited, general and subject matter jurisdiction, the Court needs to have personal jurisdiction over the Defendant. If you have a choice of courts, you can choose the one most convenient to you.

3. Find The Correct Forms And Fill Them In With Your Personal Information

You will probably need the legal name of the entity you are filing suit against, and the correct heading for the court.

4. Write Out The Complaint

Describe the situation in just enough detail that the Court will be able to see quickly what the issues are.

5. Sign And Date The Paperwork

Once your paperwork is complete, make sure you sign and date it and provide any necessary fees.

6. Summon The Other Party To Court

You will need to summon the other party to court. If the accused party doesn’t have notice, you can’t prevail in your case.

7. Consider Whether You Need An Attorney.

If you lose your case, even if it’s just because of a technicality, you may be barred from bringing suit again. An attorney can guide you through the process and help you with all the legal aspects, such as jurisdiction and whether your claim is enforceable. Although attorneys are not allowed in small claims court, they can assist you and give you advice about how to prepare your case and what evidence the Court will consider.

Filing a lawsuit is stressful, and it can lead to bad feelings between you and the other parties involved. But sometimes it is the only way to resolve a dispute, and you deserve justice in your case.