Take These Steps When You Have Been Served A Summons

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You may think you have a good reason for not responding to the summons you were served last month. At the time you received the summons you could not afford an attorney.


By time you were able to borrow enough money to hire an attorney it was more than a month past your required response date. Now you’re hoping the judge will accept your reason as a good excuse.


Unfortunately, since you failed to show for your original court date, there is almost nothing you can say that will persuade the judge in your favor. Judges are unbending when it comes to a defendant’s failure to appear.


If you had shown up for court and explained your money problems to the judge, he may have granted you what is called a “continuance,” which would have extended time to you in order to find and pay for an attorney.


If you have received a summons, it means that someone is suing you. Knowing what to do when you are served with a summons will help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that typically goes along with being sued.


Following are some steps to take when you are served with a summons, which will also be accompanied by the complaint. First and foremost is to take these two documents seriously because they are what begin any kind of litigation.


  • Contact a lawyer immediately – Do not drag your feet. Once you are served with the summons and complaint, you have twenty to thirty days to respond to the lawsuit. So note the date and time of service, then contact a lawyer as quickly as possible for several reasons.


  • If you procrastinate until a few days before the deadline to respond, your lawyer will be severely limited in his range of actions. If you should fail to respond on time, a default will be entered against you preventing you from defending the action altogether, unless the default is set aside, which will probably result in extra legal fees.


  • Scan any insurance policies – Sometimes insurance policies cover various allegations. Make copies of the policies for your attorney to evaluate. A policy might cover attorneys’ fees and costs of defending the lawsuit.


  • Understand the allegations  – Complaints often contain unfamiliar wording, so have your lawyer explain the allegations and consequences in terms that you can understand. If you fully comprehend the allegations, then you might be able to locate key documents and evidence for the attorney, saving on attorneys’ fees.


  • Preserve any evidence – Evidence takes on many forms: emails, receipts, timecards, or contracts, to name a few.  Regardless of the form, it is often central to your lawsuit. Therefore, once located, keep it in a safe place.


  • Pinpoint witnesses – Identify as many witnesses as possible — both good and bad — that witnessed the incidents alleged in the complaint.


  • Be discreet — When served with a summons and complaint, resist the emotional urge to call the complaining party or a friend. Instead call an attorney.


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