20 Jan What to do when served with a lawsuit
Here are three easy steps to follow if you are ever served with a lawsuit.
- Record the time and date you were served. Your time limit for responding to the lawsuit is based on the day you received the Complaint and Summons. Make good notes about how you were served. In North Carolina, service is often obtained by a Sheriff hand delivering the lawsuit or through a certified letter. At times, service can also be performed by a private process server. If you are not served properly the entire lawsuit can be dismissed, so it is important to share with your attorney how and when you were served.
- Don’t wait to hire legal counsel. In North Carolina, you usually have 30 days from the date of service to respond to a Complaint filed in state court. If you do not serve a response on the other side within 30 days of service, a court will likely find that you have waived your right to defend against the allegations being raised in the Complaint. Ignoring the lawsuit always makes things worse! Let an attorney advise you well before the time limit expires. Even if you don’t have a strong defense, filing a timely Answer to the Complaint forces the other side to come to court and prove their case. Sometimes filing an Answer may be all the leverage you need to encourage the other side to work out a favorable resolution.
- Gather and preserve all relevant evidence. Don’t wait around to collect the evidence needed for your defense. Get hard copies of e-mails, social media posts, text messages, as well as bank and financial records that have any relation to the lawsuit. It would be unfortunate for key evidence to be lost because your telephone or computer unexpectedly breaks down. It is critical that you don’t destroy any evidence even if it may hurt your case. If the other side is able to show that you destroyed evidence, serious consequences can be imposed by the court. Preserve everything and let you attorney review the evidence to determine what impact it may have on the lawsuit.
If you have been served with a lawsuit, don’t hesitate to reach out to our civil litigation team. We aggressively defend our clients to ensure their legal rights are protected.