How do I file suit by myself in Virginia?

Not every case warrants having legal counsel - so how do I file suit myself?

IT DOESN'T ALWAYS MAKE SENSE TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY!

Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to hire an attorney to pursue a matter in court, so you may want to file suit yourself.  But if you do, the same rules still apply.  This post is NOT intended as a substitute for legal counsel, but a simple guide to help "pro se" litigants negotiate the court system.  This post is directed at proceedings in Virginia's General District Court where $25,000 is the maximum suit amount.  (If you have a matter involving more than $25,000 you would need to proceed in the Circuit Court and you should probably rethink proceeding without an attorney)

SOME OF THE MANY DANGERS OF PROCEEDING PRO SE

1. Whether you have an attorney or not, the rules of court apply to you!

2. Legal principles like "res judicata" may apply barring you from subsequent related claims

RESOURCES - STUFF YOU SHOULD REVIEW BEFORE FILING SUIT

  1. Overview of the General District Court System in Virginia: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/gd/resources/manuals/gdman/chapter06.pdf
  2. The document most often used to file suit - Warrant in Debt http://www.courts.state.va.us/forms/district/dc412.pdf
  3. Rules of Court
  4. Virginia Law related to Civil Suits

RESOURCES - STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOUR TRIAL

  1. Rules of Evidence - See Rule 2
  2. Damages - Automobile Repair
  3. There are many other such statutes - see Virginia Laws

REASONS TO RETHINK SUIT WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY 

  1. If you are suing based upon an agreement that provides that the prevailing party is entitled to legal fees, you may be able to recoup some or all of your attorneys' fees.