We’ve all been there, frustrated and fuming at a company that financially wronged us. As consumers, we receive little respect and less decency, but sometimes a company figuratively throws you under the bus. You’re left looking at your options and realizing they are few. At this point, you may wonder how to sue a company.
When businesses don’t police their behavior, it is up to us as consumers to take them on. Even though you are one person, you can make a difference. You can help show an unethical organization that their bad treatment does not go unnoticed. In some cases, you can help them pay for their uncaring criminal behavior.
Let’s look at why and how to sue a company in the US.
Do You Have a Case?
Whether a company did wrong to you or not is immaterial when considering if you should sue. You need specific complaints against the company for exactly what they did wrong. You also must have evidence. Without these two things, you do not have a suit.
Usually, this is where you hire an attorney to represent you in your grievance. Attorneys understand the procedures, documents needed, signatures and notaries, witnesses, and delivery of summons and other types of legal briefs.
As a layperson, it is difficult to bring a suit against a company on your own. If you are already interested in law and have the time and resources to devote to finding the answers, it is possible. However, it could serve your interests better to hire an attorney. Many attorneys work on a contingency basis and do not get paid unless you do.
If you decide to go out on your own to sue a company, seek out legal advice to help you evaluate your case, file your paperwork, and give you direction on what you need to file. You may also need help to know how to continue into the courtroom portion of your case once it begins.
Whether you hire an attorney to represent or not, there are known steps to a lawsuit.
Collect any evidence of phone calls, letters, emails, company app screenshots, chats, or any other method of communication, including recordings of any face-to-face meetings. The more evidence you have that you have tried to work things out with the company, the better your suit looks.
Courts like to see that you have made an effort to get along with the company and do what is ethically correct in the eyes of the law. They want to know that you have made a concerted effort to negotiate and work through any issues contributing to the ill will shown you by the company.
“Communicate with the other side to attempt to resolve the dispute. Think of filing a lawsuit as a last resort. Anything you can do to resolve your dispute before resorting to litigation will save a lot of time, money, and stress for all involved.” (2)
Present your evidence to those giving you legal advice and see if you have a case. Lawyers have a keen eye and see what the letter of the law says about your issue. Without the proper evidence or a set of circumstances that prove unethical treatment, you don’t have a case in the legal arena.
It IS possible, though, to have a case before the public arena. At this point, if there is no way to get justice with the evidence you have, try bringing your evidence and matter to a journalist or post it online. Sometimes public outrage can contribute to someone finding the justice they seek.
Others may see what has happened and rally to your cause. You may find that you are not alone in your particular struggle. You may even find you can bring your case to the legal arena after all with combined evidence from others who are also suffering at the hands of the same company.
Check your statute of limitations for your state before proceeding. Every state has a different time limit. The date between when the wrong treatment or loss occurred, and the date you file suit against the company must be within your state’s statute of limitations.
When suing a company, you must sue in a court that has jurisdiction over the company. That means suing in a state court in the same county the company does business. You file your suit with the clerk of court in the county and pay to have the lawsuit and summons sent to the company you are suing.
If you choose to represent yourself, you must understand the rules of civil procedure so that you know how to address the court adequately. The judge will expect you to know a minimum amount of knowledge about how a court runs.
Once you file a suit, the court gives you dates in which you will need to have different types of paperwork filed. There is also a time called “Discovery” in which you look for more information and evidence to support your claims. There may be countersuits against you also. Suing a company can be a complicated process compared to just taking another person to small claims court.
Small claims court is for laypeople who are unfamiliar with how the courtroom works. Suing a company generally involves a state-level court. These courts expect you to be prepared and ready to present your case using the civil procedural rules that lawyers learn in law school.
Ask For Help
Even if it seems unfair, sometimes companies get away with hurting consumers. However, if you have the proper evidence and sue successfully, you can help prevent unethical companies from continuing to hurt others.
Hiring an attorney to oversee and work with you on the process of suing a company is generally the best fit for most consumers. Taking a business to court is a significant endeavor with reams of paperwork and legal documents. It takes more than one person to bring a big company to its knees. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
At LawZebra, our network of consumer rights attorneys stretches across the country. We are capable and have experience winning in suits against multinational companies. If you have faced mistreatment at the hands of an unscrupulous company, give us a call or contact us online to find out if you have a case. We don’t get paid unless you do, so there is no risk involved.