Responding to a Lawsuit

People are served with lawsuits every day.  This may be the result of an auto accident, a personal dispute, a bad landlord-tenant relationship or any number of other situations.  Lawsuits can be brought for almost any reason the plaintiff finds reasonable.  If you have been served with a lawsuit, it can be a frustrating, frightening and confusing time.  How do you deal with a lawsuit?  What should your next step be?  Can you just ignore the problem?  What should you do first?  Here, are the general steps to take:

1. Contact an Attorney

Hiring an attorney is of the utmost importance if you have been served with a lawsuit.  However, you cannot simply hire just any attorney that you find in the phone book.  You'll need a legal expert, experienced in the area in which your lawsuit lies.  For instance, if you are being sued for personal injury or negligence, a personal injury attorney will provide the best defense.  In addition, your attorney may be able to determine a course of action that does not involve a court of law.  Mediation, arbitration and out-of-court settlements are all examples of this. Consult with a specialized attorney in your area today, and discuss your options.

2. The Date of Response

You must file a response to any lawsuit served on you.  If you do not file a response with the court, the judge may automatically rule against you.  The date of filing for your response will be listed on the document you were served and will be in the form of a specific number of days.  If your response is not filed in that amount of time, your case will be severely damaged.  Your attorney will be able to file the required response in an adequate amount of time, but will require very specific information from you prior to filing it.

 

3. What Type of Response

While your attorney will determine the type of response you file, the information that you provide will dictate the final decision, at least in part. While an "Answer" is the most common type of response, there are many others, including "change of venue", "a motion to quash" and others. The information that you provide your attorney about the situation leading to the lawsuit will determine what type of response is filed.

4. Inform the Plaintiff

Once you have filed your response with the court, you must also send a copy of the response the plaintiff or the representative attorney in the case.  Most courts require proof that you have informed the plaintiff, as well.  Once you have filed with the court and provided the plaintiff with a copy of the response, your case begins in earnest.  Your attorney may advise you to settle out of court, or you may be faced with a jury trial.

If you are facing a lawsuit, consult with an attorney, they will be able to walk you through the entire process.
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