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5 Key Steps That Will Help When You Have Been Sued

     You receive a summons and complaint. Oh no, you’ve been sued! You begin to panic. What do you do now? Here are 5 key steps that should help you in such a situation.

     1. DO NOT IGNORE the summons and complaint! Once you have been served with a summons and complaint, you have twenty (20) days to file a response to the complaint with the court. In most instances, an extension can be requested, but you should check the rules of the jurisdiction in which the matter is filed to determine how to request an extension. Any request for an extension should be requested in writing and filed before the initial twenty (20) day response period has expired. If a response is not filed within the allotted time period, you may be defaulted and have a judgment entered against you.

     2. If you have insurance that may cover the dispute, let your insurance company know immediately. Your insurance policy should have information on how to contact the company to alert the carrier of any lawsuits or claims filed against you. If you are not sure, your insurance agent should be able to help you report the matter to your insurance carrier. If you do not let the carrier know as soon as possible, you may risk being denied coverage for the dispute.

     3. Consider retaining an attorney. If the dispute is covered by insurance, your insurance carrier may provide an attorney for you, according to the terms of your insurance policy. The attorney can file a response or request an extension to file a response on your behalf. Remember time is of the essence, so whether you retain a lawyer on your own or your insurance company provides one for you, contact the lawyer immediately.

     4. Gather any documentation related to the dispute in the complaint. Any documentation you have may be helpful in defending the lawsuit filed against you. Provide this documentation to your insurance company or lawyer.

     5. If there are any court dates in the summons and complaint, make your insurance company or attorney aware of those dates. If you do not retain counsel or report the matter to your insurance company, make sure you attend the court dates to avoid default or risk having a bench warrant issued for your failure to appear.

     Being sued may seem scary, but following these 5 key steps can alleviate some of the fears associated with being involved in a lawsuit.

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