By: Matthew Tievsky
Everyone has a vague idea of what it means to "file a lawsuit."
But, many of our clients wonder, what does it actually entail? What do
we lawyers need to do, in order to get a lawsuit off and running?
There are two major steps we need to take before a lawsuit can really begin.
The first step is to file what is called a "complaint." A complaint
is a statement of what happened,
i.e., what the wrongdoer (defendant) did to our client (plaintiff) and how
this violated the plaintiff's rights. A complaint also includes a
statement of how the plaintiff was harmed. Finally, the complaint states
what sort of compensation we are seeking. In a typical automobile collision
case, then, a complaint is a description of how the crash happened, the
injuries that the plaintiff suffered, and the compensation he/she seeks,
which is an amount of money. (In Maryland, that can be any amount up to
$75,000. If the number is greater than that, we simply ask for "an
amount in excess of $75,000).
Filing the complaint with the Court is simple, and technically beings the
lawsuit. But we must take another step for the lawsuit against the defendant
to be complete: We need to notify the defendant that he/she is being sued.
It is not enough to simply call up the defendant and tell them; Maryland
courts want to make absolutely sure that the defendant knows about the
lawsuit. So we have to take a copy of the complaint, as well as an additional
document (the summons) which the court gives us. We must locate the defendant
and hand-deliver these documents to the defendant, or to someone who lives
with the defendant. This is called "serving process" upon the
defendant. Once the defendant has been served with process, then he/she
has to get a lawyer and respond to the lawsuit. Then the lawsuit
If you have questions about how to file a lawsuit in Maryland, you should
contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata &