Anyone intending to launch a civil case in Maryland must first select the relevant court (circuit or district) in the appropriate county before submitting a complaint to the court clerk for consideration. In order to be effective, the complaint must be served on the defendant or defendants in accordance with Maryland's rules of civil process.
Putting Together a Complaint
A complaint is a legal document that is prepared by the person who is bringing the lawsuit. According to the complaint, the names and addresses of the parties to the lawsuit, the facts of the case, as well as the remedies sought, are all laid forth. In a civil case, the person or entity who files the complaint is referred to as the plaintiff, and the persons or entities who are being sued are referred to as the defendants. When filing a lawsuit in Maryland, the complaint must have numbered paragraphs that contain short descriptions of the facts of the case that entitle the plaintiff to relief from the defendant.
Filing the Complaint
Once a complaint has been prepared, it must be filed by the plaintiff. The sort of case and the amount of money at risk determine whether a civil lawsuit is filed in the circuit court or district court in Maryland, respectively. The complaint shall be submitted in the county where the defendant resides or, in the case of a breach of contract, where the defendant conducts his or her business.
If the case involves a personal injury, the lawsuit should be filed in the county where the incident or accident happened. For the complaint to be valid, it must be filed with the clerk and the proper filing fee, which is $34 for small claims and $46 for all other types of claims. Contact a Baltimore personal injury lawyer for more information.
District Courts in the State of Maryland
Generally speaking, District Courts in Maryland are responsible for addressing small claims as well as eviction lawsuits and other landlord/tenant disputes, as well as minor criminal cases and cases involving consumer law and property rights. Every county is served by a district court of its own. Anyone wishing to bring a civil case to collect money must do so in district court if the complaint seeks $5,000 or less in compensation.
If the complaint is for more than $5,000 but less than $30,000, the plaintiff has the option of filing in either district or circuit court, depending on the circumstances. If you want to file a lawsuit without hiring an attorney, you should be able to download the complaint form or phone the District Court of Maryland to request a copy. There are also self-help resource centers in each county where plaintiffs can go for assistance with the filing of their lawsuits, according to the district court.
Circuit Courts in the State of Maryland
The circuit courts of Maryland are the state's tribunals of general jurisdiction. Lawsuits seeking more than $5,000 in damages can be filed in the circuit court, although lawsuits seeking less than $30,000 in damages can be filed in district court if the plaintiff so chooses. The plaintiff will need to check the circuit court's website to ensure that the complaint is filed in the correct circuit, as each circuit court is composed of many counties. Although each county has its own courthouse, there are currently eight judicial circuits in the United States.
Serving the Complaint
As soon as the complaint has been filed, the clerk will issue a summons, and within 60 days of the summons being issued, the plaintiff must present the summons and complaint to the county sheriff, or to a process server, who will then serve the complaint on the defendant. Once the complaint has been successfully served, the sheriff or process server will complete an affidavit of service, which the plaintiff must file with the court in order to demonstrate that the complaint was properly served on the defendant. In the following 30 days, the defendants must file either an answer to the complaint or a move to dismiss the lawsuit.