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Lawsuits & Litigation

Things to Remember When Filing Suit Against Someone

— November 19, 2018

You have contracted an independent freelancer to do some repair work in your house or prepare a website for your small business and the work was either poor quality or not done on time. You’re considering filing suit.

You have contracted an independent freelancer to do some repair work in your house or prepare a website for your small business. Once the work was done, you have noted that it is not up to your requirements or maybe the contracted freelancer did not meet the deadline and failed to complete assignment on time. You are now considering various options to solve the situation and most likely filing suit is one of those options.

However, before continuing with filing suit there are certain things to be taken into account and certain steps to be completed. First and foremost, you need to try to settle any disagreement with another person amicably. Discussing such disagreements in person can be a good start, followed by an official complaint letter stating the shortcomings of the work performed and asking to correct them. Maybe your freelancer will remedy any defects or pay you compensation for the missed deadline and filing suit will not be required.

So, you have tried to discuss the issue with your freelancer in person, sent him a complaint letter and followed up a few times, but he never responded and failed to address your concerns in a professional manner. Thus, you are left with no other options but filing suit against the unprofessional freelancer. If you are not a licensed lawyer or do not have enough experience with the legal system (whether you have some legal background or not), you will require some assistance with court filing in order to ensure that everything is done properly and that you have not missed anything.

Now, you are getting ready to file a case and of the important things to consider is whether you have missed a deadline, also known as a “statute of limitation”. The statute of limitation differs from state to state and depends on whether any given contract is oral or written. For instance, the lowest period of the statute of limitation is two years for oral contracts in California, while Louisiana and Rhode Island have the highest period of the statute of limitation for verbal contracts at ten years.

Once you have determined that you have not missed any deadlines, you need to comply with certain requirements so that the complaint is duly prepared and all paperwork is in order. These days you can also file relevant paperwork electronically. In your complaint, you will describe the damage that was caused to you and ask the court for either compensation for that damage or for elimination of the said damage by the defaulting party (the contracted freelancer).

Afterwards, the court preparation stage begins. At this point you will need to establish how strong your position is and whether you have sufficient evidence and valid grounds to win your case in court. During this stage, research will play an important part, since you will require in-depth analysis to find previous court cases similar to yours, collect sufficient evidence, such as written correspondence you had with the contracted freelancer requesting him to eliminate work defects or demanding payment of compensation for a missed deadline.

Brown wooden gavel; image by Rawpixel, via
Brown wooden gavel; image by Rawpixel, via

Upon completion of court preparation stage, the trial will commence. During this stage, the judge will evaluate provided evidence, statements made by witnesses and concerned parties, and listen to the closing statements made by either side. In case of a jury trial, the judge’s role will be to explain relevant legal rules to the jurors and ask them to render a decision, while in the case of a bench trial (i.e. trial without jury), the decision will be rendered by the judge.

During all stages of the court filing process, deadlines are crucial and even slightest delay may result in not receiving important update on time, or failing to submit an important piece of evidence, which may eventually affect the outcome of your case. Thus, no matter whether you have a strong legal background, whether you have assistance from qualified lawyer or are handling your case on your own, it is critical to have someone who will take care of the filling process on your behalf.

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