The U.S. legal system allows people to file lawsuits in civil court to seek redress, usually money, for physical or emotional injuries. In criminal cases, the question is whether the person accused of a crime is guilty. However, in civil court, the question is whether the actions of the person being sued caused some sort of damage to the person who filed the suit. The person who files the suit is known as the plaintiff. The person he is suing is the defendant. Each can hire a lawyer to represent him.
Download a civil complaint form from the Missouri state court system's website. If you have a complaint against a Missouri resident, business or law and you live in Missouri, you must file your complaint in the county where at least one of the defendants lives. You can file a lawsuit in federal court if the case involves several defendants but only one lives in Missouri.
Complete the form pertaining to your legal situation. The website offers forms regarding appeals, executions, garnishments, judgments and paternity cases.
Pay a filing or service fee if required. Call the local circuit court clerk's office if you have questions about fees and court rule procedures.
If you are seeking less than $3,000, you can file your complaint in small-claims court. In Missouri, small-claims court may be part of a municipal court or part of the circuit court.
Missouri has 45 circuit courts. Some encompass more than one county.
Circuit clerks can not assist you in completing forms.
A civil suit must be filed within one to 10 years from the time of the incident at issue. For example, a suit alleging violation of a contract must be filed in five years. A suit filed after the specified period will be rejected.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images