A Civil Action - Filing a Lawsuit


In our last blog post we discussed the process of settling your case without filing a lawsuit.  Remember “Happy Clients Make Happy Attorneys!”  However, in this blog post we will be discussing what happens when the insurance company refuses to pay you what you deserve.

The Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 2 state “[t]here shall be one form of action to be known as ‘civil action.’”  What does this mean for a plaintiff (a person who is suing a defendant because he/she has been injured through no fault of their own)?  It simply means that Rule 2 provides a single uniform procedure by which a plaintiff may present a claim against a defendant in an orderly manner in a court that is empowered to give the relief sought by the plaintiff.

To start a civil action, the Law Firm of Pepper & Odom, P.C. carefully drafts a complaint that is tailored to your case.  Every case is different and every client is different.   Additionally, each case has different facts and those facts will touch upon different ways to litigate your case.   Those different ways to litigate your case are called “causes of action.”


To a good lawyer this is as simple as a mechanic knowing the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips head screwdriver, or a nurse knowing the difference between a bedpan and a syringe.

So what are causes of action?

Causes of action are merely facts and law combined; each cause of action has specific set of facts that justify the right to sue a defendant.  For example, the defendant/tortfeasor rear-ends the plaintiff, upon talking with the police officer the tortfeasor says he was not paying attention to the plaintiff’s car and was instead looking at his smart phone, and that is why he rear-ended the plaintiff.  That is a cause of action for negligence.  The tortfeasor was negligent, and therefore the plaintiff may sue the tortfeasor for negligence in a court of law.

These causes of action with regards to personal injury must be proven by the elements/steps of the cause of action.  The elements/steps for a claim of negligence are the following:

1. We know that the tortfeasor had a duty not to rear-end the plaintiff;

2. The tortfeasor breached that duty by hitting the plaintiff (by looking at his smart phone);

3. The proximate cause or causation of the breach was caused by the tortfeasor rear-ending the plaintiff; and

4. The plaintiff must prove that he/she has been injured by the defendant.


For the sake of this blog post, we have now filed the complaint and the summons has been issued.  The Law Firm of Pepper & Odom, P.C. has process servers who serve the complaint and summons upon the defendants.  The Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 4 requires that summons/proof of service by issued and served along with the complaint on the defendant.  Once the complaint and summons are served, we file the summons/proof of service with the court clerk to prove that the defendant was served.

The summons is simply a notification to the defendant that he/she has thirty (30) days to answer the complaint, or a default judgment will be the result after filing a lawsuit.  In the next blog post, we will discuss what happens after the complaint and summons are served.

For personal injury attorneys that get results, call us at Pepper & Odom Law Firm, 601-202-1111.