How to Sue in Florida

By Jessica McElrath

When a dispute arises between you and another person, you can sue the other party in a Florida court. You file the lawsuit in Florida's civil court, which is a court that handles private conflicts between people or entities. If you sue another person, you are called the plaintiff and the other party is referred to as the defendant.

Construct your complaint. A complaint is the document that initiates a lawsuit. In the complaint, you will include information about the facts, the legal basis for the claim and the relief you are requesting.

File the complaint with the clerk of the court. The Florida court system is comprised of a variety of courts, including county courts, circuit courts, district court of appeals and the state supreme court. In most circumstances, you will file you complaint in a county court, which hears civil cases involving claims for $15,000 or less, or in a circuit court, which hears cases involving civil claims for more than $15,000. The applicable filing fee must accompany the complaint.

Serve the other party with the compliant and the summons. You must notify the defendant that you have filed a case against him. You must do so via service of process by having someone not involved in the case delivery the documents to the defendant in person or by mail. The summons is the document that officially notifies the defendant of the lawsuit and informs him that he must answer the complaint within 20 days. In an answer, the defendant will state whether he admits or denies the allegations and he will state his defense. The failure of the defendant to answer within the specified time will result in a default judgment in your favor.

Attend the trial. If the defendant answers the complaint or the parties are unable to reach a resolution, the case will proceed to trial. The decision-maker at trial can be either a judge or jury. If a jury will decide the outcome, a jury comprised of six people, plus alternates, must be chosen by both parties. During the trial, you and the defendant will have the opportunity to present your side of the case. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury or the judge will decide which party will prevail. To win, you only need to establish that it is more likely than not that your version of the story is true.

About the Author

Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.

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