Things To Do Before Filing A Civil Action
Filing a lawsuit can have major consequences to you. Anyone considering filing a lawsuit may want to answer the following questions before taking action:
- Do I Have A Valid Case?
- When Should I File My Case?
- Where Do I File My Case?
- Are There Any Special Rules That Apply To My Case?
Evaluating whether or not you have a valid case is a very important step to take before filing an action as filing a frivolous case or filing a case to harass the other side could result in you having to pay the other side’s attorney fees and costs as well as any sanctions ordered by the court. See JCRCP 11 and NRCP 11.
To avoid starting filing a frivolous lawsuit, you should evaluate whether or not there is any legal basis for your claim. This means that there should be some law, or a non-frivolous argument for the extension of existing law, that supports your claim against the other party.
The Civil Resource Self-Help Center staff cannot tell you if you if your case is valid. Talk with an attorney ( link to pg. ) to see if you have a legal basis to start a civil case. An attorney might suggest other reasons (legal theories) that would support your lawsuit that you did not consider, or she might tell you the reasons why you should not start a civil case.
All civil cases are subject to statutes of limitations which is a law that defines the maximum period of time, after certain events, that legal proceedings based on those events may be initiated. After the time limit has expired, unless there is some legal exception, you no longer have a legally enforceable claim.
Different types of claims have different statutes of limitations. See Chapter 11 of the Nevada Revised Statutes or t alk with an attorney (link to pg. ) to determine the specific time period that applies to your claim.
Before filing a lawsuit, you need to determine which court has jurisdiction over your case. In the State of Nevada, there are:
- Municipal and Justice Courts (which hear specific types of cases);
- District Courts (which are considered courts of general jurisdiction); and
- The Nevada Supreme Court (which is the final court of appeals)
You will likely need to decide whether to file in Justice or District Court. In Clark County there is one District Court and 1* Justice Courts which are located in each township. (Click here (link to pg. ) for a list of Justice Courts in Clark County).
If you are suing to recover money in an amount that is:
- Over $10,000, District Court has jurisdiction;
- $10,000 or less, Justice Court has jurisdiction (See NRS 4.370);
- $5,000 or less, Justice Court has jurisdiction but you have the choice of filing your claim as a small claims action. (See NRS 4.370 and 73.010)
If you are suing for anything other than money, you may wish to research which court has jurisdiction.
In some situations, you must take certain steps before filing your action. Some of the steps that you are required to take may be found in the Nevada Revised Statutes or in a lease agreement, contract, etc. . .
Example #1: You want to sue your landlord because the air conditioning in your rental unit broke and you had to move into a hotel for a week. Nevada law may require you to send your landlord written notice and give him the opportunity to repair the problem before you sue.
Example #2: You want to sue your doctor because you believe that he committed malpractice. Nevada has established a system whereby potential medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a screening panel prior to the filing of the complaint. See NRS 41A.016