Whether you expected it or it took you by surprise, being served with a lawsuit is never a pleasant experience. It might be better not to panic or retreat because a cool head is needed and there's no time to waste. If you follow the below steps, you might soon be in charge of your situation again. Read on to find out more.
You May Not Be Alone
If you've been in an auto accident and you have insurance, you automatically have help. Lawsuits filed against drivers usually include a "duty to defend" clause that provides those sued after an accident with free representation. Take a look at the parties listed at the top of the complaint or petition and you will likely see listed others that are being named as parties. You may also be entitled to representation if the suit involves your homeowners' insurance.
Call an Attorney
If you don't have insurance you will need legal representation to defend you. A lawsuit, if you lose it, can wreak havoc in the lives of people regardless of their ability to pay the plaintiffs. For example, the judge has the power to freeze your assets during the trial with liens and levies and to garnish your wages if you lose the case. Once you are served with the lawsuit, you have a limited time within which to respond so speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.
Get your attorney up to speed as quickly as possible by providing them with what they need to know. Unfortunately, some plaintiffs take their time when filing suit and that means the incident in question might have occurred months ago. Jot down what you remember about the incident and take a moment to gather documents you may have on hand. For example, if it was a car accident, get a copy of the accident report, any insurance information and correspondence, and other accident-related documents.
Give an Answer
No matter who is representing you, an answer to the lawsuit is expected and it must be answered in a certain way. You may have noticed that the suit listed several "facts" according to the alleged victim. Each of these facts requires an answer that is done by either:
- Agreeing with the fact.
- Disputing the fact with some of your own.
- Stating that more information is needed at this time.
Just so you know, your lawyer will prepare an answer for you.
Sue Them Too
It should be mentioned that you might have a case against the defendant and a countersuit might be in order. Speak with your attorney about filing a separate case if you suspect that they are at fault or that the other parties' actions have harmed you in any manner.
Many lawsuits end up being dropped or settled outside of court. Speak to an attorney and take action to defend yourself right away.