You’ve Been Sued And Served With A Writ Of Summons Or Complaint. What Now?
Article by: Hunter Schenck, Esquire
Finding out that you have been sued can be scary, daunting, overwhelming, and confusing. Court papers often contain “legalese” which can leave you wondering what to do. This article addresses some litigation basics that will help you know when to contact our office and what to do at the beginning of litigation whether you are an individual or part of a company.
Step 1: Take a Breath
If you have just been served you have some time to figure out what to do. Take a breath and read the papers that you’ve received. They should give you an idea of what the lawsuit is about. It might involve a contract, collection of a debt, an injury to the other person, or a dispute over land. It might involve your landlord, tenant, business partner, or some other person. If your lawsuit is not a divorce, custody battle, or criminal action, it is almost certainly civil litigation.
Step 2: Do NOT Ignore It
Litigation can often feel overwhelming. You may want to ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away. It almost certainly will not go away and it could get worse if you ignore it because there are many deadlines involved in litigation. Whether the Plaintiff’s claims are true will not matter if you ignore the suit or fail to cooperate. You could end up with a default judgment or sanctions against you.
Step 3: Save ALL Documents and Evidence
This means everything, not just the items you feel like sharing. Once you know that a suit exists, you have a duty to preserve or save all possible evidence. This can include letters, emails, voicemails, and even text messages. It may also include photographs, videos, and any other thing that might relate to the case. Do NOT delete or destroy and do not allow anyone else to do so. Keep it safe, even if you think it might harm your case.
Step 4: Contact a Civil Litigation Attorney
Litigation Attorneys deal with civil suits on a daily basis. We will explain your options, help you to figure out how to proceed, and take care of the many deadlines and documents that will ultimately be involved. When you first contact our office, we will need to know the names of all persons or entities involved in the suit. This includes you, other Defendants, the Plaintiff(s), and anyone else who could be a witness or against whom you might have a claim.
Step 5: Bring Documents with You
When you meet with a litigation attorney, bring along the court papers and other documents that you might have. This might include contracts, emails, letters, or text messages with the other party. It could also include any notices, bills, warnings, or demand letters. These documents, and others, will help us to analyze your case and get you the most thorough opinion about how to proceed.