How To File a Lawsuit When You Have No Money

by Mike on February 27, 2012

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You hope the day never comes when you need to file a lawsuit, but something could arise when it becomes your only options. For example, you could have been in a car accident, or the victim of medical negligence, or even in a dispute with your employer that you’ve been unable to resolve.

There are various reasons why people sue, but it can be difficult when you have no money. However, there are some options you can consider.

Before Suing

Before actually filing a lawsuit, it is important that you make sure that you’ve done everything in your power to resolve the issue. For many disputes, this means clearly laying out the terms and conditions in writing for all parties to see. It also usually means certified mailings (for proof), and specific correspondence. If the dispute isn’t resolved, all of these items can become evidence should you still need to file a lawsuit.

Small Claims Court

If the claim is small (varies on location, but usually less than $10,000), you can do most of the work yourself and file the lawsuit in small claims court. Small claims court is designed for individuals, representing themselves, to resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively in an informal setting. Most small claims courts do not allow lawyers.

This is the best option if you have the time available to put together your case (which, if you did the steps before suing, should be straightforward), and feel comfortable making your case in front of others. The costs of small claims courts are usually very small, and many times, you can ask for court fees to be covered in any settlement. This is a great option if you have no money and the dispute is small.

Getting a Lawyer

If the dispute is larger than what small claims court allows, or doesn’t meet the criteria, you will need to go to regular court and get a lawyer that specializes in the field you are suing (injury lawyers, asbestos lawyers, employment lawyers, etc.). If you have no money, this could be difficult, but there are no fee no win solicitors, who don’t charge a fee unless they win (at which point, they will take a percentage of the award they win in your favor).

To get started on this process, you need to find a lawyer or solicitor that is no fee no win. These attorneys will usually want to review your entire case before proceeding, and will ask you do perform a lot of your own due diligence. Since they are out of pocket any fees, they usually push a lot more of the burden onto the client.

However, if you are sure you will win, and it will be a large settlement, a no fee no win solicitor can be a good way to get your case going.

The legal system is designed for justice, and that is possible even if you have no money. Sometimes you will just need to work a bit harder on the lawsuit personally, but either way, you can get justice.

**Photo by s_falkow on Flickr**

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andi @ MealPlanRescue February 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm

From my time working in a law office I can say that the most important thing is to get everything in writing. If you don’t have written or tangible proof, it didn’t happen.

2 Amanda L Grossman February 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm

It’s nice there is an option for people who do not have the money to pay a lawyer outright. Then again…I wonder what that commission looks like! My guess is 30-40%.

3 John | Married (with Debt) February 28, 2012 at 9:38 am

Great post. Fighting back helps remind the big guys that the little guy won’t always lay down without a fight.

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