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Bring together all necessary evidence to support your case. Collect all financial documents, written agreements, correspondences and additional information relevant to the issue at hand.
Go to the county court where you reside or where the misdeed took place. Visit the clerk for the small claims court, for example, if your lawsuit involves seeking restitution up to $5,000 or contact the clerk for the general district court, circuit or civil court for tort issues and/or matters exceeding that amount. Avoid contacting Virginia county courts regarding bankruptcy issues and refer these matters to federal bankruptcy court.
Inform the clerk of your desire to file a lawsuit. Fill out the plaintiff petition form and all other documentation required by the clerk. Write out the basis of your claim with detail. Present the clerk with the name and address of the defendant. Pay any and all processing and/or warrant-issue fees -- beginning at $36 -- as required by the clerk.
Pay the filing fees required to file your case in Magistrate Court. Filing fees vary in each county. Call the Magistrate Court Clerk's Office to find out how much you must pay before filing your claim. Inform the clerk if you cannot afford to pay the filing fees. The clerk will tell you how to file a Pauper's Affidavit. The Pauper's Affidavit is a statement saying that you cannot afford to pay the filing fees. Some counties require that Pauper's Affidavits be approved by the judge.
File the lawsuit in the county where the defendant lives or, if you are suing a business, file in the county where the business is based or incorporated. The court clerk will give you a form to complete. The form is considered your complaint. Include the name of the person you are suing, known as the defendant, and the reason you are filing the suit. The defendant has 30 days to reply to the complaint. The defendant's written reply is known as an "answer." The trial is typically scheduled 15 to 30 days after the defendant files an answer to the claim. The court will inform you of the trial date after the defendant files an answer. Bring all necessary papers and any witnesses you may have to court on the trial date. If the defendant does not answer by the time limit, you will win the judgment by default and be awarded your claim amount, filing fee and all other court costs.
Get a copy of the complaint from the clerk along with a summons form. Take the summons to the sheriff or marshal who will serve the documents to the defendant. The documents inform the defendant why you are suing him or her and how to answer the lawsuit. The company's registered agent is served if you are suing a corporation.