how to file a lawsuit in Utah
To file a lawsuit means giving a Complaint or Petition to the Court to begin a legal proceeding.
In Utah, attorneys e-file their documents with the Court. Non-attorneys may file documents by hand-delivery to the Clerk of Court or by mailing them to the Clerk of Court.
It is important to note that a document is not considered filed until the court actually receives the document. If it is not delivered or gets lost in the mail, it is not considered filed. As a result, if you are mailing documents to the Court you should do so by certified mail.
non-public information should not be included in filing
If you file a document with the Court, you are responsible for ensuring that it does not contain non-public information. You can look at the Court’s Non-public Records web page for more information pertaining to non-public information and for the associated forms.
Also, the Court considers some types of cases and records as private. In those cases, only the parties; their attorneys and certain other people can review the record. For example, the following records are private, among others:
- Petitions for divorce
- Protective orders
- Petitions for guardianship (adult)
- Motion for temporary orders (child custody)
- Victim impact statements
- Medical records
where to file your lawsuit
A Plaintiff is required to file his or her Complaint with the Court who has the authority to handle that particular case. This is referred to as a Court having “jurisdiction.”
There are two types of jurisdiction. Subject matter and personal.
subject matter jurisdiction
Subject matter jurisdiction addresses the authority of the Court to hear a particular type of case relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, only the bankruptcy court have subject matter jurisdiction to hear bankruptcy cases. Additional examples include:
- Civil cases are filed in Utah district court (state and federal).
- Small claims cases are filed in justice court.
- Requests for child protective order or a petition to terminate parental rights are filed in juvenile court.
Personal jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to make a decision about the particular party being sued. For example, does a court in Florida have personal jurisdiction over a Utah resident, meaning can a court in Florida determine the rights of a Utah citizen?
It depends. The U.S. Constitution requires that the Utah resident have certain minimum contacts with the forum Court in Florida. In making that determination, the Court will look at issues like whether the Utah resident have a home in Florida? Does the Utah resident travel to Florida for business? Communicate with Florida residents? Send letters or e-mails to Florida? Make purchases in Florida? These are the types of questions the Court would analyze to determine whether it has personal jurisdiction over the Utah resident.
The lawsuit must also be filed in the correct county. This is called “venue.” There may be more than one correct county to choose from. The county in which the defendant lives and the county in which the case arose are almost always the correct county. There may be other ways to determine proper venue in particular types of cases. You can look at Utah Code Sections 78-13-1 et seq. and 28 U.S.C.A. § 1404 for more information on venue.
In certain cases, a defendant may move for a change of venue to avoid prejudice or publicity. You can learn more about change of venue in Utah Code Section 78-13-9.
filing fees for filing a lawsuit in Utah
In Utah, a filing fee is required for nearly all complaints and petitions and for some other documents as well. Filing fees are established by Utah Code Section 78A-2-301. You can look at the Court’s Filing / Record Fees web page for a list of the various filing fees for filing in Utah state court and here for the filing fees in Utah federal court.
If a party cannot afford the filing fees, they can ask the judge to consider waiving them. You can check out the Court’s Fee Waiver for more information.
when to file the lawsuit
In Utah, statutes of limitation govern the deadlines for filling lawsuits. Statutes of limitation apply in both civil and criminal cases. The statute of limitations for some cases is as short as six months and up to eight years for other types of cases. In Utah, most personal injury cases must be filed within four years. But there are exceptions.
You can review the Utah Code here to determine the statute of limitations for your particular case.
serving papers on the defendant
After you file your lawsuit, you must “serve” it on all of the parties to the action. You do that by providing those parties with copies of the Complaint and Summons. Learn more about serving a Complaint and Summons on our Service of Process page.
Contact us at Gosdis Law with anymore questions you have about filing a lawsuit. Call us today at (385) 474-6126; text message at (801) 200-1578; or e-mail email@example.com to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.