Look up a pro-bono attorney(free help with your case) or an attorney that will take your case on a contingency(take a % of what you may win) , a para-legal can even help you out. They can advise you/counsel you on how to handle your case in court but can-not act as an attorney in court. Filing a law suit is expensive, and following through can get even more expensive. You can, if this family member was taking out taxes, and somewhere your earnings were documented call the labor board in your state and also labor board with the federal government. Go to your local court house and talk to the clerk of court, they should be able to give you a lot of information on what route you need to take and how much time you have to do it. I would also recommend getting a complaint form from your state "attorney generals office", the "better business bureau". I got paid through these places for repairs done on a big-rig. Took about 3 months, but I got my money. No matter what state, it is against the law for an employer to neglect paying employees! If you contact the the attorney generals office, make sure you have all dates times and hours, be complete in filling out the form, as well as better business bureau. Good luck. Your local library, in the "law section" has a lot of help.
It depends on the state that you live in and the amount of the judgment. In Michigan, a small claims judgment ($3,000.00 or less), is good for 6 years. A civil judgment is good for 10 years.