Introduction: One of the most depressing feelings in the world is to receive a summons and complaint. The topic for today is what one should do if a person or company gets sued.
STEP #1: SHUT UP! Do not call or write to the opposing attorney and try to explain the situation. You are now being sued. Anything that you say can and will be used against you in Court. Nothing you say will stop the progression of the case. You must control yourself and know that you usually have 30 days from the time of the complaint to respond. Calling the attorney or party suing to explain the event will only add to the potential harm soon to be inflicted on you.
STEP #2: DO NOT PICK UP THE YELLOW PAGES AND START CALLING! Just like doctors, attorneys have specialties. It is imperative that you find someone that has the ability and background to handle your case. One of the biggest problems I have with clients they have a tendency to call everyone in the yellow pages then come to me with 15 different ideas, many of them wrong.
What one needs to do to resolve this difficult issue is simple. Take out three pieces of paper. On the first piece of paper write down what happened. On the second piece of paper write down what you want. On the third piece of paper write down what the other side will say.
What you will then do is fax, email, mail the papers to the attorneys you want to work with. The attorney will then do one of three things. 1. They will look at your request and throw it in the trash. That is wonderful! You never want to work with an attorney that does not take the time to help you. 2. They will refer your request to another colleague. This is also great because you want to be referred to a specialist. 3. The attorney will take the time to research your issue and get back to you with an informed answer. All three results net positive outcomes. You now have what you have wanted in the first place, competent legal advice.
STEP #3: LET THE ATTORNEY KNOW IF YOU HAVE INSURANCE. Insurance covers you in more ways than people know. The first thing I ask a prospective client, particularly if they are a business, is whether they have insurance. Many times, the insurance one has purchased will cover them in case of a lawsuit. The great thing is that if the insurance does pick the defense of the company, many, if not all of the legal fees are free to the insured.
My recommendation is that you submit any lawsuits through your attorney. Attorneys know what insurance companies need to accept your case. Know that if your attorney refuses to present your lawsuit to your insurance company this may be grounds for malpractice.
STEP #4: DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. None of the above tips can help you if you wait until the last minute to respond to your complaint. From the first day of the receipt of the lawsuit, do not procrastinate. If you wait you are risking not just money, but the possibility of an attorney that has no idea what they are doing.