I am Being Sued! What Should I Do?
If you are being sued, Buffington Law Firm, PC, always offers a free consultation either on the telephone or in person in the office. Call 714-450-6568 to arrange for a free consultation with one of our business litigation, real estate, or inheritance dispute attorneys.
Usually when someone sues a business or an individual, the lawsuit begins with a process server delivering a “Summons and Complaint.” The summons is basically a form legal document that warns the defendant that he or she is being sued by the Plaintiff, and explains that the defendant has a certain number of days to respond. The “Complaint” is a document that is usually written by a lawyer that states specifically what the lawsuit is actually about, and why the Plaintiff is suing. These often contain legal jargon and can be hard for non-lawyers to read.
Do not ignore a lawsuit. Never ignore a lawsuit against you or your business. If you do not respond to the Summons and Complaint the other side’s attorney will enter a default judgment against you for the full amount for which you are being sued. This judgment has the same force and effect as a judgment after a trial. You can never safely ignore a lawsuit.
First Step – Select a Lawyer. Even if you think that you may want to handle the lawsuit yourself, we recommend that you visit a qualified lawyer before making that decision. In California corporations or other businesses are not allowed to represent themselves and are required to be represented in court by an attorney. At Buffington Law Firm we always offer a defendant, whether an individual or a business, a free, no-obligation legal consultation with a qualified and experienced attorney. At this meeting we will review your legal problem, review key documents, and give you a preliminary evaluation.
Do not contact the other side’s attorney yourself. Understandably, when someone finds out they are being sued, sometimes their first reaction is to contact the other side’s attorney to try to work things out. We believe that it is never a good idea for an unrepresented defendant to speak with the other side’s lawyer. The opposing attorney is required by the Rules of Professional Conduct to zealously prosecute his or her client’s case, not to try to see your side of the story. When an unrepresented party talks directly to the opposing attorney this sends a signal to the lawyer that he or she has the upper hand. This is a very weak “opening move” that rarely leads to anything good. At the very least, we strongly recommend that if you or your business are served with a lawsuit, see a lawyer before you speak with anyone.
Do not write anything to the other side yourself. This is also covered in our article ” What to do if you think you have a legal claim. Avoid these pitfalls! ” The only thing worse than speaking with the other side’s attorney is to write something to the attorney or the actual party. Doing so may make you feel more “in control” but it is just about always a mistake. Written correspondence is evidence. Something that you write to the other side about the lawsuit can easily put your case in a different light than your attorney will want to frame it. Do not do this.
Stay off the Internet and do not use email! This is self-explanatory. Stay off of the Internet and do not email anyone other than your attorney anything about your case. Email, Facebook postings, blog postings are all evidence and they turn up in court often, invariably as evidence against the person who wrote them. Follow this simple rule: stay off the internet and do not use email.
At Buffington Law Firm we have given many thousands of free consultations to defendants. I can hardly remember a time when our visitor did not feel better or benefit by the visit. Most of these people have become clients. But there is never any obligation if you visit us for a free consultation. Call us at 714-450-6568 to arrange for your free consultation today!