Lawsuits allow individuals to settle disputes in court. For example, if a person is seeking damages or medical costs after a car accident, they can sue the person who caused the accident. Other instances for lawsuits can be a breach of contract, failure to return borrowed property or nonpayment of a loan.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A lawsuit is a proceeding in court to settle disputes. Lawsuits under $15,000 are heard in the Georgia Magistrate Court, while cases seeking a higher monetary amount or requesting a specific action are heard in Georgia State Court.
Filing a Lawsuit in Georgia
Lawsuits aren't always monetary. Some lawsuits require a specific action. For example, landlords who wish to evict tenants can file a lawsuit. Also, lawsuits can request that a person returns borrowed property or a landlord makes necessary repairs.
It’s not necessary to use an attorney when filing a lawsuit in Georgia. However, the plaintiff, or person filing the suit, is expected to know how the courts and legal system work, and provide proof of the alleged wrongdoing. The judge and the court clerks aren’t allowed to give any legal advice, nor can they appoint a lawyer on a plaintiff's behalf. It's also worth noting that even if the plaintiff doesn’t use an attorney, the defendant, or person named in the lawsuit, still has the right to seek and use legal representation.
Requirements for Filing a Lawsuit in Georgia
Anyone filing a lawsuit in Georgia can do so in person at the clerk of the court's office. An attorney is the only person allowed to file a lawsuit on another person's behalf. People without legal representation must file the suit themselves. At the clerk's office, the plaintiff must fill out a complaint known as a Statement of Claim. This form requires the plaintiff to state the defendant's name and address and to provide a detailed description of the events that are causing the plaintiff to take legal action. Dates, times and locations are especially helpful. The complaint also asks what action the plaintiff is requesting from the court.
The defendant should attach any relevant documentation to the complaint form, such as copies of letters, photographs of damage and copies of contracts. After filling out the form, and having it notarized, the plaintiff pays a filing fee and filed the complaint. If the plaintiff can prove poverty, the court will waive the filing fee.
Serving the Defendant
After filing the complaint, the plaintiff has to arrange to serve notice to the defendant. The notice includes a copy of the complaint and a summons informing the defendant how much time there is to respond. After filing, the plaintiff needs to bring the notice to the county sheriff or marshall's office where they will serve the complaint on the plaintiff's behalf. It is necessary to pay a fee for serving the defendant.
The defendant has 30 days in which to answer the complaint and can write his own version of the events leading up to the lawsuit. If he feels the complaint has wrong information, he should list any corrections in his answer. If the defendant fails to respond, the judge can issue a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff. Once the defendant responds, both parties will receive a hearing date.
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