If you receive a service of process and a complaint has been filed against you for a civil suit, you might find yourself asking some questions. What does it mean to be sued? What should you do? Consider this basic checklist for what to do when being sued in Florida.
- Admit to Yourself: The case will not go away on its own. Anyone can file a complaint against anyone for anything. Once you have been served, there is nothing you can do to prevent the lawsuit. It is not until you react and respond to the situation that it will go away.
- Call an Attorney. Lawyering up is the best thing you can do when you find yourself a defendant in a civil suit. An attorney is able to assess the complaint and the strength of the case against you. Sometimes an attorney can make this assessment in a free initial consultation. Take advantage of the attorney-client privilege and tell your attorney everything. To avoid costly litigation, your attorney will be able to negotiate with opposing counsel and get you the most favorable settlement possible.
- Try to Settle. Chances are, the reason you’re being sued is because a settlement didn’t work. Though this is not always the case. If the plaintiff has not tried to settle with you, then it is time for you to reach out to him or her. Sometimes all it takes is asking them to withdraw the complaint and drop the case. However, if you are angry or think you would be unable to speak calmly to the plaintiff, then it is in your best interest to send an attorney to negotiate in your stead.
- Respond to the Situation. If settlement is not an option, then you must file something in order to prevent a default judgment. A default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of the plaintiff (and against you) based on your failure to take any action. In the Florida civil litigation process, you generally have only 20 days from the date of service of 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 one of our experienced Florida litigation attorneys for a free initial consultation today!