If You have been Sued
1. First thing is to take a deep breath and don’t panic.
2. Check and see which type of court it is in. This is very important because the type of court in effects how much time you have to respond or answer. Look at the case number on the Summons, usually in the top right hand corner. Look at the letters that the number start with.
SM – Small Claims Court – you have 14 days from when the Summons was served on you.
DV – District Court – you have 14 days from when the Summons was served on you.
CV – Circuit Court – you have 30 days from when the Summons was served on you.
3. Determine what type of case it is against you. Do you know who the Plaintiff, the person that sued you? Read the Complaint and the facts that are laid out in the Complaint. Is it against you personally or your business?
4. If it is a collection of a debt, see if you recognize the Plaintiff as a person or company who you owed a debt to. If not it may be a debt collector who bought an old debt from another company. Check out the section on Debt Collectors.
5. Put your insurance company on notice immediately, if you believe that the claim is covered by insurance. If this involves your business call you liability insurer and put them on notice. If this involves a car accident, your automobile policy may cover the defending of the case and the amount of the claims. If this involves something around your house, example if someone falls at your home, your homeowner’s insurance may cover the claim. Some homeowner policies have riders in the policies that cover many areas that you would not think is related to owning a house. BUT YOU MUST PUT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY ON NOTICE OR YOU MAY WAIVE THEIR COVERAGE IN THE CASE.
6. Do not ignore the case, you have a limited time to respond. If you do not respond the Plaintiff can get a Default Judgment against you for whatever the amount is that they are claiming. With that Judgment they can garnish your paycheck or bank account.
7. Gather all of your documents that you have that are related to the claim. Make a list of the ones that you do not have but know are available from other people or companies.
8. Make a list of people that could give statements of personal knowledge about the facts of the case. You will need their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
9. You do not have to talk with the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff’s attorney, but if you do remember they may record the conversation and anything you say can be used against you during your case.
10. Consult with an attorney about your case. It is very important that you have legal representation when going into court.