So you just had a stranger come to your home, hand you a stack of papers, and tell you that you were being served with a lawsuit. I am a litigation and lawsuit attorney in Mesa, Arizona and I can tell you what you need to do, now.
Don’t ignore it—it will not go away by itself.
Hopefully you have gotten over the initial shock (or maybe it wasn’t a surprise), and the sinking feeling in your stomach has subsided, but you still don’t know what you are going to do about this new problem. After all, chances are you are not an attorney and have never set foot in a courtroom. Your plate is already full with your job, maybe a business to run, a family to raise, yard work, home repairs, etc., etc. You don’t have the time or the expertise to deal with a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, you cannot just throw away the papers and pretend you never saw them. Even if the allegations against you are made up, you must do something to defend the lawsuit. If you do nothing, then it is only a matter of time before the person who filed the lawsuit (called the “Plaintiff”) is going to automatically get a judgment against you (the “Defendant”). Once that happens, then your wages, bank accounts, and other assets are at risk of being garnished—taken by legal means to satisfy the judgment.
Call an attorney—Now!
No, this problem will not disappear. In fact, you have only a limited number of days in which to respond to the lawsuit by filing something with the court. You need to call an attorney immediately. An experienced civil litigation attorney will be able to sit down with you, talk through the facts underlying the lawsuit, inform you of your rights and obligations in the lawsuit, and give you an idea of what kind of risk you are facing and how to best go about protecting yourself.
A good attorney not only knows the law but also communicates well with his or her clients, does not give false expectations (beware anyone who promises you a successful outcome), and will make your case a priority.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
Even if you think you cannot afford an attorney, the truth is that you can’t afford to go without one. An unrepresented party to a lawsuit is subject to the same rules and legal standards as those who hire attorneys. Not knowing the law or rules of court can get you into trouble and be a great disadvantage. Also, if your business is being sued, you need to understand that in many situations the business is required by law to be represented by an attorney . Finally, if you eventually do decide to defend yourself, you will still benefit by meeting with an attorney early on in order to better understand your case and what to expect in the court process.
I have the litigation experience to help you.
As a partner and lawsuit-litigation attorney at Rowley Chapman & Barney, I enjoy helping my clients to navigate through the uncertain world of litigation. For more than eight years, I have been successfully representing clients in matters ranging in value from a few thousand dollars up to several million dollars. If you have been served with a lawsuit (or if you are thinking of starting your own litigation) I would be glad to meet with you and answer your questions and then aggressively represent you through the court process. I look forward to getting to know you and helping to carry your burdens. Call me today at (480) 833-1113 to make an appointment to discuss your case.