What To Do If You’re Being Sued
No one ever wants to be served with a summons and complaint, which means someone has filed a lawsuit against you. If you receive a service of process and a complaint has been filed against you for a civil suit, you might find yourself asking yourself, “What do I do next?”, “What does it mean to be sued?”, or “Do I need an attorney?”
Consider this basic checklist for what to do if you or a loved one is being sued in the State of Florida.
Don’t Blow It Off
The lawsuit will not go away on its own and you can’t act like it doesn’t exist. Once you have been served, there is nothing you can do to prevent it from happening or blow it off like it isn’t real. It will not go away until you react and respond to the situation accordingly.
One of the most common mistakes people make is to think about the facts surrounding the situation and think to themselves, “No judge would ever rule in their favor. This person is a liar”, and thus they do nothing about the suit. By doing nothing, you ignore the twenty-day timeline to respond and give the opposition to get a judgment by default. Once this happens, even if the person suing you was wrong, they ultimately prevail. That is why you must take every lawsuit very seriously.
Calling an experienced attorney is the best thing you can do when finding yourself as a defendant in a civil suit. A trusted attorney can assess the complaint and strength of the case against you. Be sure to take full advantage of the attorney-client privilege and disclose all information to your attorney. Your lawyer will be able to negotiate with the opposing counsel and get you the most favorable resolution possible while avoiding costly litigation.
Always remember, there is more to winning a lawsuit than just having the facts on your side. Do not be fooled into thinking that you can represent yourself and prevail against an attorney that is actively suing you. A licensed, experienced litigation attorney will know how to use the rules of evidence and procedure to not only see that your side of the case is effectively heard, but they will also know how to legally challenge the sufficiency of any allegations or evidence being brought against you.
Settle If You Can
It’s likely that the reason you’re being sued in the first place is because the parties were not able to reach an agreed-upon resolution to a dispute that predated the lawsuit. If the plaintiff has not attempted to settle with you, then it is now the time for you to reach out to them. However, it may be in your best interest to have your attorney negotiate on your behalf.
Settling does not mean admitting that you are wrong or that the plaintiff is right. Rather, settling is an important cost-saving decision that ultimately will benefit all parties. Statistically, less than 3% of all civil cases go to trial, thus it is best to try and reach a cost-effective resolution quickly in order to ultimately save your bottom line. Having an experienced trial attorney guide you in negotiations and advise as you on when and how to settle is one of the most critical tools you can have.
Respond to the Lawsuit
If settling is not a good option, then you will need to file something in order to prevent a default judgment as mentioned earlier. A default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of the plaintiff (and against you) based on your failure to take any action. In Florida’s civil litigation process, you generally have 20 days from the date of being served the original process to serve an answer. If the complaint is baseless, your strategy may be to file a Motion to Dismiss, for which there is also a deadline.
If a lawsuit has been filed against you or if you have any questions about the Florida trial process, contact us to schedule an appointment for an initial consultation. Over the years, the attorneys at the Wynn Law Firm have represented clients both as defense and plaintiff’s counsel across countless areas of litigation including but not limited to property disputes, business disputes, contract disputes, mortgage foreclosures, and personal injury. It is important to have an attorney with the experience and dedication necessary to handle the litigation needs that you’re facing. The team at the Wynn Law Firm stands ready to represent you whatever your need may be.