I HAVE BEEN SUED! SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. HOW DO I KNOW THAT I HAVE BEEN SUED?
In most states you will have been "served" with some paperwork. The Plaintiff is the person or entity who feels they have been wronged, creates a "complaint", files it with the proper court and then serves or gives a copy to the defendant or "wrongdoer" along with a "summons" issued by the court. The Summons is a document that explains and notices the defendant of the it's requirement to answer the complaint in a certain way and by a certain time. The Summons and complaint must be served or given in a legally defined way within a certain period of time in order to start the clock running on the defendant's time to answer.
If you have been served with the "summons" and the "complaint". You have been "sued" There are different types of service. The most common is service "in person", by substitution, or by publication. The in person service is as it's name suggests, a process server hands you in person a complaint and summons. By substitution usually means that the server left the documents at your home with a person of suitable age and discretion and in very limited circumstances the plaintiff my get permission from the court to serve the defendant by publishing the summons in the paper or by mail.
The person serving the documents must be unrelated to the case and at least of adult age. You cannot be served where you used to live.
You can generally be sued in the county or state in which you live or where the subject matter of the suit or incident occurred.
2. OK, I HAVE BEEN SUED, NOW WHAT?
You need to consult with an attorney. I will speak to over the phone for free and will learn enough from you during that phone consult to determine whether you possibly have some defenses or just need some legal representation. Depending on the circumstances, I may take the case with on a partial contingency fee basis. This means that I you will not have to pay the bulk of my fee unless the case is dismissed withdrawn or settled.
3. HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT AFTER SERVICE TO ACT?
DON"T WAIT AT ALL!. You only have a short time to respond.
4. WHAT IF I DON"T RESPOND?
The Court will issue a "default" judgement because it will believe that you were made aware of the lawsuit and refused to respond. A default judgement means you lose. If you lose and the debt buyer has a judgement they can garnish your wages, record the judgement creating a lien on your assets or levy your bank account.
5. MY CREDIT REPORT INDICATES A JUDGEMENT BUT I WAS NEVER SERVED!
Obtaining a judgement against you without serving you denies you your constitutional "due process" rights. Somebody has sworn under oath that they served you however. So you should check with the Clerk of Court where the suit was filed and ask for a copy of the proof of service of the summons and the complaint. If you were not served properly, you MAY be able to get the judgement "set aside".