Civil lawsuits in court are complex processes that require plenty of knowledge and experience to successfully win. While criminal court deals with violations against the law, civil courts address mostly financial matters (landlord/tenant disputes and breach of contract), in which one person (the plaintiff) sues to seek some sort of compensation (usually money) from a defendant. A well-prepared lawsuit requires an experienced attorney (except in small claims court cases), extensive legal research and an understanding of the court systems.
- Skill level:
Other People Are Reading
Find an experienced attorney. A good lawyer will provide legal counsel, research your case and prepare a strong presentation, whether you are a plaintiff or defendant. Find a lawyer with specialised experience. For civil cases, do not use a lawyer who mainly deals with criminal defence. Apart from preparing your personal case, an experienced local attorney understands the legal system, especially the one in your area.
Work on your own case. Though a lawyer will be working on your case, help him by doing your own work as well. Gather evidence supporting your side or discrediting your opponent's case. For example, a tenant suing a landlord for not returning a security deposit would gather the lease agreement signed by both parties. The tenant would also offer photographs of the apartment in good condition and say that the landlord breached their agreement by withholding the deposit.
Practice your case presentation with and without your lawyer. Prepare what you will say ahead of time, and anticipate questions by the judge and opposing side. Put your evidence together in a logical manner to support your arguments, and have a mock trial with a friend or family member.
Observe other civil court proceedings. This allows you not only to get a feel for the procedure but to grow comfortable in the courthouse where your case will be heard.
Dress appropriately, and act professionally. Do not lose your temper or let your emotions get the better of you in court. Nice clothes (clean, professional, conservative suits or dresses) create a better image for the judge and jury. Always present your case logically, with evidence, and listen to your lawyer's advice.
Tips and warnings
- Many small claims courts around the country prohibit representation by an attorney. In these cases, you can arrange a consultation with a lawyer outside of the courtroom, where he will coach you in the process and offer you advice on evidence and procedure. In these cases, legal research and strong evidence are extremely important to winning a lawsuit.
- 20 of the funniest online reviews ever
- 14 Biggest lies people tell in online dating sites
- Hilarious things Google thinks you're trying to search for