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  Question: Recently, I received a certified notice in the mail from the court that contains a Complaint and a court summons. Have I been sued at this point? What should I do next? Do I need an attorney?

Answer: The simple answer is yes, you have been sued and depending on the case it is almost always advisable to seek the advice of a licensed attorney once you have been served with a Complaint and summons. Court rules state that you have 28 days from the time you were “served” with the Complaint to respond. However, before your 28 days expire, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed attorney before you submit anything to the court.

If you deny some or all of the claims asserted, then the case will most likely move forward. At some point thereafter, most courts will schedule a case management conference, where the court can set a discovery schedule and trial date. After that, a series of pre-trials and various other hearings may be held to determine important, often case-resolving, issues. The procedures governing litigation can be extremely complex and pro se (self-represented) litigants can quickly find themselves at a serious disadvantage in defending the opposing party’s claims. Often the outcome of an entire case can hinge upon a small procedural issue that can be undiscoverable without the assistance of a licensed attorney.

On the flip side of this scenario, if you choose to ignore the Complaint and summons and do not provide the court with a response within 28 days, the court can issue a default judgment against you. The granting of a default judgment is a very negative consequence and should be avoided at all cost. At that time, the court finds the defaulting party liable to the plaintiff, and the Court can then determine damages against you. Essentially, one has lost the case by this point, and it is time to see what it is going to cost to reimburse the opposing party for its damages. Harvey, Abens & Iosue certainly can help prevent a client from having to face the unattractive scenario of a default judgment.

If you should ever have a question about a legal claim that has been brought against you or a question about a legal claim you would like to pursue against another party, please feel free to speak with an attorney at Harvey, Abens & Iosue about your legal issue. Harvey, Abens & Iosue will be happy to provide a free consultation concerning your matter.