A Beginner's Guide to Finding and Reading Lawsuits

September 26, 2023 by The laWow Team

A Beginner's Guide to Finding and Reading Lawsuits

Navigating the world of lawsuits can often seem like a daunting task. The paperwork is dense, the language is intricate, and the system is seemingly impenetrable. But fear not! With the right tools and knowledge, anyone can unlock the secrets hidden within legal complaints. Let's dive in.

1. How to Find a Lawsuit

1.1. Determine the Court of Filing

Before you embark on your quest to find a lawsuit, the first thing you need to know is where it was filed. Was it in a federal court or a state court? This distinction is essential because it determines where you will look next.

1.2. The Federal Court Route

If the lawsuit was filed in a federal court, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) offers electronic access to federal court records. This makes your search process straightforward, albeit at a cost.

1.3. The State Court Path

For lawsuits filed in state courts, a bit more specificity is required. Identify the state and county of the lawsuit's filing. Armed with this information, visit the county court’s website where instructions or portals for accessing case files await.

1.4. A Free Alternative

Though PACER and county court websites abound with information, they often come with associated fees. Here's the silver lining: laWow provides a vast trove of lawsuits, absolutely free of charge. Start searching on laWow now!

2. How to Read a Lawsuit

2.1. Understanding the "Complaint"

While "lawsuit" may refer to the complete legal case, today, we're focusing on the "Complaint". This pivotal document, usually one of the first filed by a Plaintiff, sets the tone for the entire lawsuit.

2.2. Breaking Down the Complaint

A civil complaint typically starts with:

  • Case Number: Depending on the lawsuit's filing location, the case number, a unique identifier, is typically placed at the top or within the caption. This number is crucial for those wishing to delve deeper or monitor a case beyond the initial complaint.
  • Caption: This offers a snapshot of the case, typically encompassing the involved parties, filing court, type of pleading (in this instance, a complaint), and the causes of action. While formats might differ based on jurisdiction and venue, these details are mostly consistent.
  • Party and Attorney Details: This section, usually placed at the top, lists the involved parties and the attorneys representing them.


Delving further into the complaint:

  • Jurisdiction & Venue: This clarifies why the chosen court is apt for the lawsuit.
  • Party Listings: An exhaustive breakdown of all involved entities.
  • Factual Allegations: The crux of the complaint, this segment details the events or actions precipitating the lawsuit.
  • Causes of Action: Herein, the Plaintiff enumerates the legal infractions they allege were committed by the Defendant.
  • Prayer for Relief: This details the Plaintiff's aspirations from the lawsuit.

2.3. Simplifying the Process

Although every facet of a complaint is pivotal for legal practitioners, those seeking a more layperson-centric approach should focus on the factual allegations. This segment lucidly narrates the events in question.

2.4. Making It Even Easier with laWow

Feeling daunted by the complexities of lawsuits? We have your back. laWow not only grants access to a myriad of lawsuits but also proffers user-friendly summaries of renowned ones. Plunge into the legal realm without getting ensnared in jargon. Explore our lawsuit summaries!

In Conclusion

Whether you're an academic, researcher, or merely driven by curiosity, demystifying lawsuits needn't be a Herculean endeavor. With laWow at your disposal, you're poised to confidently traverse the legal domain. Dive deep and discover the riveting universe of law like never before!