Starting a Maryland Lawsuit

When you start a lawsuit against (sue) someone, you are the initiator. You’re the one who goes to court, files the paperwork, and presents a case against the other side. By doing this, you are obligating the other side to respond if they plan to present their side of the case. Winning the case means that the court has decided in your favor.


Wanting to sue


Just because you want to sue someone does not mean you can.  Several requirements must be met for you to be able to sue.


To be able to sue, you must be:


  • Directly affected by the issue you are suing about (this is called having “standing”),

  • An “actual legal entity” (such as a person or a corporation),

  • 18 years of age, and

  • Mentally competent to sue.


Other things to consider are:


Am I suing in the right court? Has my time limit for suing expired? Do I have a reasonable chance of winning my case? An experienced Maryland attorney with trial experience can help you answer these questions.


Whom to sue


Figuring out which person to sue can be complicated. Depending on the circumstances, it might not be obvious. If you are injured in a store, do you sue the manager or the owner? Are you suing an individual or an organization? You must figure out who is the responsible party that you need to sue.


Deciding to sue


Once you decide to start a lawsuit, you must have certain information before you can start.  Most importantly, you need the name and address of the person you are going to sue. This is because you will need to send them copies of the paperwork you are filing.  If you are suing an organization, you need the name and address of the representative. If you can’t find this information, there are ways to look it up.


Amount of money at stake


There are three types of civil cases, depending on the amount of money involved:




Small Claims Court is a division of the District Court of Maryland. It handles disputes involving no more than $5,000, and does so with less formality than other Maryland courts.




The District Court of Maryland has exclusive jurisdiction in civil matters of claims involving $5,000 or less. Claims involving amounts above $5,000 and below $30,000 may be filed in the Circuit Court as well as in the District Court. The District Court does not have jurisdiction of claims involving amounts in excess of $30,000 except in Maryland Landlord-Tenant matters or in replevin.Beware that actions that are filed in the District Court for more than $15,000.00 are subject to a jury demand by the defendant that will transfer the action to the Circuit Court.




Jury demanded cases and/or Civil cases involving more than $30,000.


The more money involved in your case, the more complex it can get. It also means a higher likelihood of the other side making more of an effort to win. Also, the more money involved in your case, the more important it is to find an experienced Maryland attorney. The right Maryland attorney will know the law, the court rules and procedures, and how to present a case to a jury. 


Initiating legal action


Summons and complaint. 


Once you know who to sue and you have their contact information, you need to complete the summons and complaint. The summons is the document that tells the other party where and when to go for the first court hearing. The complaint is the document that lays out your case against them and explains why you are suing.The documents must be filed with the proper Maryland court and a copy sent to the other side. Generally, there are time limits within which you need to complete these documents.


Response deadlines


Many of the steps in a lawsuit are dependent on meeting deadlines set by the court.


Maryland District Court Claims


Defendants have 15 days from the date that they receive the summons to file this notice with the court (out-of-state defendants and those with resident agents have 60 days to file the notice). By filing the notice found at the bottom of the summons, the defendant is letting the court know that he or she plans to argue that the plaintiff is not entitled to the damages being claimed.


Maryland Circuit Court Claims


Most of the time, the other side will have 30 days to file a response.


If they don’t respond within the time limit, you might ask the court to enter a default judgment. This means you want the court to decide the case based only on the information you’ve given. 


Experienced litigation attorneys to help you with your lawsuit


If you’re thinking about starting a lawsuit, contact an experienced Maryland litigation attorney that can help you get the maximum benefit.


Contact us to schedule an appointment, or call us at 301-605-1722. We look forward to helping you.