You’ve Been Served a Lawsuit.
Being served with a lawsuit can be quite anxiety-producing. Most likely you were not expecting it, or at least not at that exact moment. First things first, take a deep breath. Now find a reputable lawyer you can trust. It should be an easy process to schedule a phone call or appointment to discuss next steps and options with your lawyer.
What is an Answer?
If you are served a lawsuit you must file an answer. You have a limited time frame to file an answer with a court, as few as 20 days. What exactly is in the answer? An answer usually is a written general denial. It could include a statement asking the petitioner to prove each and every point of their case. It might also have some defenses to certain claims. From the day you are served you have 20 days, plus until the following Monday at 10 AM to file an answer. All days count towards the 20 days including holidays and weekends. It is important to file an answer in that time frame. A petitioner might try to get a default judgment against you if you don’t. If you are working with a good lawyer they will be aware of the important timeframes regarding submitting an answer.
What is a Default Judgement?
If the respondent (you, if you were first served the lawsuit) received a legal notice or lawsuit against them, but does not file an answer, the petitioner might file a default judgement. You don’t want this to happen. In general, that means the person who filed the case wins without any contest from the opposing party. You can also get a default judgement if you do not attend a case hearing.
What is a Counter-Petition?
An answer is required but what do you do if you are served but you would like to make your own claims against the petitioner? In this case in addition to an answer you want to file a counter-petition. A counter-petition is needed if you want to make your own claims against the petitioner. Whether you file an answer or a counter-petition you must serve on all other parties. “Service” is when you give a copy of each document to each party in the case. If a party is represented by a lawyer, serve the lawyer. If the party does not have a lawyer, serve the party. You can send them by certified mail, fax, or hand delivery. If you choose to hand deliver the papers be sure you get a proof of receipt so later on the person being served can’t deny they got served. Navigating the field of being served a lawsuit can be complicated, and time truly is of the essence. Call the Puhl Law Firm for a consultation and to learn your next steps if you are served a lawsuit.