When receiving notice a lawsuit has been filed against you, a series of emotional reactions will naturally follow — from surprise and fear to anger and denial. Whatever may have brought about the unfortunate situation, immediate action will transform an emotional reaction into a state of clarity. Follow these steps to counter legal action against you, responsibly.
- Contact Your Lawyer — you will have up to 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. This is not the time to procrastinate. If you don't already have a lawyer, find one that is local, has a good reputation, and experience in your type of litigation. Waiting until the deadline inches closer to respond will limit the amount of time your lawyer has to prepare a response. If you miss this initial deadline, additional motions will result in unnecessary legal expenses.
- Understand the Details of the Lawsuit — this is where a good lawyer is of a maximum value. Federal, state and local laws are complex — and are also full of many loopholes that the general public is not aware of. Understanding the details of the lawsuit against you will also add valuable insight into the options your lawyer will offer as a defense or avenues for reconciliation. Fully understanding the allegations along with a range of options and their consequences are necessary for locating relevant information and presenting a strong defense.
- Gather Pertinent Documentation — insurance policies (including those purchased by employers) may contain a potential for financial coverage and should be examined by your lawyer. Other documentation will include any physical evidence to support your claim of innocence. This includes any documents relating to the dispute, conversations — either recorded or witnessed to support your claims — and records of any financial or professional transactions relating to the lawsuit.
- Make a List of Witnesses — record the names, professional information and personal data for any eyewitnesses or corroborating witnesses (those whose testimony can confirm your statements) who are instrumental to support your position in a court of law. Make this list as early as possible to avoid forgetfulness, and as often as necessary — as time will often bring to mind other individuals to support your case.
- Follow your Lawyer’s Advice — this can be as simple as not discussing the case with certain entities or calling the plaintiff to attempt to strike a deal. Discussing your case on social media, with opposing lawyers or their representatives, and even an insurance adjuster can jeopardize the solidity of your case. Always refer questions about the suit to your lawyer's office. The rule of thumb is to follow the advice of your legal counsel in all matters pertaining to your case.
When you follow these steps when being sued, you increase your options for a positive outcome while reducing the legal expenses that can be incurred from costly mistakes and missed deadlines.
Additionally, a good working relationship with your lawyer's team will go a long way to alleviate that initial fear and anxiety. If you are in Harris or Montgomery County, Texas, contact our law office. We are here to help you.