You have just been served with a lawsuit…what do you do now? Having a lawsuit initiated against you can be a very aggravating, confusing and scary experience. If this happens to you or a loved one these should be your first steps:
- Read the documents carefully
The first thing you need to do is review the documents you were served with. You should have received a summons, and a document entitled Complaint or Statement of Claim. The documents should include information regarding the court in which your case is pending, information to identify your case, such as a case number, and the name of the defendant. The summons should include an official government seal and/or signature, indicating that it is authentic and legal. The summons is also very important because it will include information as to the next steps to be taken, including any deadlines to respond to the allegations made against you. The Complaint or Statement of Claim outlines the allegations and claims made against you in a narrative format. It is important to read these documents carefully and keep them in a secure place.
- Gather and preserve any relevant documents or evidence
Once you review the documents and have an idea as to the claims against you and who is suing you, your next step should be to gather any documents that may be useful or relevant to defend your position. Depending on the nature of the lawsuit against you, this can include written documents, including contracts, records, leases, and bills, as well as written communications such as letters, emails, text messages and much more. It is very important to gather these materials and preserve any evidence you can think of for 2 reasons. First, these documents may prove useful or necessary when defending your case. Second, failing to preserve all evidence regarding the case can have serious and unintended legal consequences which can very negatively affect your case. An experienced attorney can explain the legal implications of not retaining all evidence and can help you understand what documents or evidence must be kept safe.
- Call an experienced attorney
Next, you really should call an attorney. Even if you think you understand the claims made against you, or that they have no merit, seeking the advice and services of an attorney should be a top priority. You should seek to hire an attorney who is experienced in the type of claim that was initiated against you, as well as someone you feel comfortable with and trust. When you first meet with your attorney or prospective attorney, you should bring any and all evidence or relevant materials you have about the claim, as well as the summons and Complaint you were served with. The materials will help him or her understand the nature of your claim and what legal options you have. Once you hire an attorney, you can now let out a big sigh of relief, because although the case is against you, it is now your attorney’s job to walk with you in this uncertain time and help get you to the best possible result.
- Act quickly
Lastly, you should endeavor to act quickly. At the beginning of a lawsuit time is of the essence. There will be a deadline within which your attorney must file a response to the Complaint filed against you, however to do that your attorney will need time to review the evidence in your favor, conduct legal research and perform his or her own investigation into the matter. All of this takes time and the more quickly you act the more time your attorney will have to get this all done correctly and thoroughly. If you are sued, don’t go it alone and don’t be hesitant to act.
At the Law Office of Robert N. Pelier, P.A. we take pride in helping our clients navigate difficult or confusing times. We have experience in civil cases of all kinds, including civil defense of lawsuits. Our experience helping and advocating for our clients in South Florida can help you.