Filing a Lawsuit in Alameda County, California
If you live in
If you're contemplating filing a lawsuit, there are various things you need to consider, and it is not a decision to be made lightly. You should not file a lawsuit without seeking the advice of a Alameda County, California civil litigation attorney first.
When you retain a civil litigation lawyer in Alameda County, California, they'll be able to give you some extremely useful advice, especially in devising a strategy that maximizes your chances of winning your lawsuit. You'll probably also wonder how much this lawsuit is going to cost you, especially if you don't win. This largely depends on the attorney's fee structure. If the attorney charges an hourly rate, you will simply have to pay the lawyer for every hour they work. This can add up to a huge amount of money, very rapidly. If they charge on a contingency basis, you do not have to pay any attorney's fees unless you win, and payment comes in the form of the percentage of the judgment. However, if you lose, you might still be responsible for costs, such as court fees, which are incurred no matter what happens to the case.
Steps for Filing a Lawsuit in Alameda County, California
Consultation with your attorney: Before you proceed with any legal action in Alameda County, California, you should seek the advice and counsel of a reputable Alameda County, California attorney. He or she will be indispensable in helping you succeed in your lawsuit.
Drafting The Complaint: In Alameda County, California, the initial step to filing a lawsuit, once you've actually decided to do so (in consultation with your attorney), is writing a complaint. A complaint is simply a list of facts that you allege against the defendant. A court must look at these allegations and decide if they add up to a legitimate cause of action, assuming they're true. If they do not add up to a cause of action, the case may be dismissed. The complaint also usually ask the court to provide specific relief, should it rule in the plaintiff's favor.
Serving The Defendant: Once you, or your lawyer, have drafted a complaint, the defendant must be served with it, so they have notice that they're being sued, and are given time to prepare a defense. Alameda County, California has specific rules governing how a complaint must be served, for the service to be valid. Personal service (having someone give the documents directly to the defendant) is preferred. However, some courts will also accept service by mail in limited circumstances, or service upon an adult member of the defendant's household.
Await Defendant's Response: When you have served the defendant with the complaint in Alameda County, California, the defendant has time to respond. The most common response is known as an "answer," in which they particularly address the factual allegations you've made against them, usually by denying most of the allegations. They might also move to dismiss the case if they can argue that the complaint is legally flawed. A judge then has to rule on this motion. If the defendant doesn't respond within a certain period of time, they are said to have "defaulted." This allows the court to enter a default judgment, in which the plaintiff essentially automatically wins the lawsuit. Once this happens, the defendant, if they're ever located, can be served with the judgment, and will have very little power to challenge the merits of your case.
Find a Alameda County Lawyer that Specializes in Your Area of Need:
How Can A Alameda County, California Tort Lawyer Help?
The basic outline above does not come close to covering all the specifics involved in filing a lawsuit in Alameda County, California.
If you have suffered a legal wrong in and decide to sue the person who you believed wronged you, you should consult with a qualified Alameda County, California attorney.