How to sue my NJ Land Lord

Do I need an attorney to file a lawsuit in New Jersey?

You do not need an attorney to sue someone in New Jersey. For lawsuits over small amounts of money it may cost more to hire an Attorney than you would recoup in court.

What can I sue someone for in New Jersey?

You can sue someone for just about anything, but there is no guarantee that you are going to win.  And, if your law suit is frivolous, the judge may even order you to pay for the costs of the person you are suing. You should discuss your matter with an attorney prior to filing a law suit.

How hard is it to sue someone in New Jersey?

It is not that difficult to begin  a law suit in New Jersey. The New Jersey courts have a packet online that explains the process. (They even recommend getting a lawyer before filing a law suit in New Jersey.) Starting the law suit is not difficult, making sure to follow all of the court rules and doing things that will not lose your case on a technicality is the difficult part.

You can get help from the clerks at a court house. They will explain how the court works, the requirements for your case to be considered by the court, provide samples of court forms if they are available, guidance on how to fill out a form, and they will even answer questions about deadlines.

The New Jersey courts WILL NOT:

• Give you legal advice. Only a lawyer can give you legal advice.

• Tell you whether or not you should bring your case to court. Talk to a lawyer about the merits of your case and where to file.

• Tell you what will happen if you bring your case to court. Talk to a lawyer about whether you can win your case.

• Recommend a lawyer. Talk to multiple lawyers. Find one you like.

• Talk to the judge for you about what will happen in your case. The only time to talk to the judge is in court with both sides of the case present.

Do you want to file a law suit in a New Jersey court without an attorney?

It is not recommended to do this without discussing your situation with an attorney. However, filing a law suit in New Jersey is a straightforward process that requires several steps. You may need to pay the court fees depending on your financial situation.  It is possible to have fees waived. Law suits filed in New Jersey state courts must have some connection to the state of  New Jersey for jurisdiction; you must be suing a party which has contact with, or business in the state of New Jersey. Lawsuits filed which involve federal laws, or against agencies of the federal government are normally dealt with in the US District Court for New Jersey. Small claims law suits can not be greater than $15,000. Amounts larger than that are filed in the Law Division of the New Jersey Superior Court.

A civil suit begins with the filing of a complaint and civil case information statement (CIS) with the appropriate filing fee. Within 10 days of the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff will receive a Track Assignment Notice (TAN). A case is assigned to one of four tracks depending on the type of case and the length of time it should take to complete discovery. (When working with the New Jersey courts, you will be exposed to a lot of abbreviations. Feel free to ask questions, if you need to know what a court person is talking about.)

The complaint, CIS and TAN must be served with the summons on all parties. A defendant must file an answer to the complaint along with the appropriate filing fee within 35 days after service of the complaint. If an answer is not filed, the defendant can face a Default Judgment in New Jersey Court.

After the complaint is served and an answer is filed, the discovery period begins. The time for discovery depends on what track the case is assigned. During the discovery period, the parties exchange information about the case. Both sides are required to turn over relevant material that is not privileged. You should discus this with an attorney if you have any questions.

At any time during the case, a party may make a motion to the court for some specific relief. If you are not sure of what kind of relief you are entitled, talk to an attorney. Prior to a trial, cases may be sent to mediation (a meeting in which a neutral third party facilitates discussion between the parties to reach a resolution of their differences) and/or arbitration (a hearing in which parties present their positions to a neutral third party who makes a recommendation for resolving the case which may be accepted or rejected by the parties).

If mediation or arbitration is unsuccessful, the case will be scheduled for trial. The trial may take place before the judge alone or before a judge and a jury. At the trial, both sides present evidence supporting their positions. The decision of the judge or jury is contained in the final judgment. If a party wishes to appeal the final decision, a notice of appeal must be filed in the Appellate Division within 45 days after the entry of the final judgment. You should consult with an attorney before beginning an appeal.