What to Do When a Lawsuit Is Filed Against You
If a lawsuit has been filed against you, you may feel helpless and worried about what’s to come and you’re not alone. It’s estimated that approximately 40 million lawsuits are filed in the U.S. each year.
When you’re informed about the lawsuit, you may be tempted to call the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney directly to argue your case and explain why the lawsuit is unwarranted. Refrain from contact with the plaintiff, as this can be detrimental to your case. Even if it may be possible to ultimately settle the claim outside of court, this is best achieved with aid from professional attorneys.
Learn about the steps you should take after legal action has been taken against you. By following these five crucial steps, you’ll ensure you can properly address the lawsuit and mitigate the consequences of the legal action taken against you.
1. Contact Liability Insurer
Once you learn that a lawsuit has been filed against you, reach out to your liability insurer. The insurer you contact depends on the case. If an accident occurred at your home, reach out to your homeowner’s insurance company to discuss your coverage and the possibility of a claim. If the incident happened at a business you own, consider contacting the insurance company that holds your business liability insurance policy.
Keep in mind, insurance companies are businesses. Your insurer may be quick to dismiss your plea for assistance by claiming your policy doesn’t cover the incident. It’s important to know the coverage you have if you feel your insurer should help you with the lawsuit.
2. Find the Right Attorney
Once legal action has been taken against you, a public defender may be provided at no cost. However, it’s important to have good defense representation in the lawsuit to ensure you experience a favorable outcome. Take the time to find legal help that’s reputable for your case.
There are many types of lawyers with different specializations, so finding one that focuses on the type of lawsuit you’re involved in is crucial to building a strong defense. Before deciding on a lawyer, review the firm’s history with your specific type of lawsuit to ensure they have a good track record.
The right attorney will be able to discuss a solid strategy for your case. Their plan of action should make logical sense and they should be able to understand and explain your side of the case easily. Before hiring a lawyer, be sure you feel confident in their ability to represent you.
3. Gather Information
After you’ve been served, begin to collect information and data that relates to your case. The specific information you present to the court may vary depending on your case, but could include:
- Text messages;
- Phone records;
- Accounting records;
Even if the evidence you possess may be incriminating and work against you in the lawsuit, it’s illegal to destroy or tamper with it. When you gather this information, keep it in a secure location to ensure you can present it successfully to your lawyer.
As you collect the information your attorney requests, don’t discuss your case or the evidence you plan to submit with anyone else. While you should maintain an open line of communication with your lawyer, no one else should be involved in the details of your case.
4. Remain Calm
The legal proceedings of a lawsuit can be nerve-racking and you may find yourself visiting the courtroom several times. Both your attorney and the plaintiff’s attorney may ask you personal, intimate, or odd questions that are frustrating, stressful, or confusing to answer. It’s important to remain calm throughout the questioning and throughout all legal proceedings.
If erroneous claims are made against you or irrelevant facts about your life are discussed in court, remaining calm is your best defense. The plaintiff’s attorney may be purposefully attempting to evoke emotion in you.
It’s tempting to defend yourself when your character is questioned or information you find to be erroneous is submitted to the court. However, you must allow your attorney to do their job of defending you. Your lawyer knows how to plead your case effectively.
If irrelevant information is brought up, your lawyer will object. It can be hard to listen to the plaintiff’s lawyer build a case against you, especially if you don’t agree with what’s being said. Keep in mind that your attorney will negate the claims that were made without foundation when it’s their turn to speak. Remaining calm is key to keeping the jury engaged and ready to listen to your lawyer.
5. Remain Patient
When a lawsuit is filed against you, it’s only natural to want it resolved as soon as possible. Unfortunately, lawsuits are usually extremely detailed and may take a long time to resolve. Don’t expect your lawsuit to conclude quickly. In most cases, lawsuits take years to process and settle. It takes both sides a long time to gather information and evidence to build their cases so it may be a while before your case even goes to trial.
It’s important to remain patient and in constant contact with your lawyer to ensure you’re providing what they need to continue working on your case. While it can be frustrating when a case takes a while to get to trial, remember that your attorney needs to build a strong evidence-based defense that will hold up in court to ensure a favorable outcome.
When legal action is taken against you, it can be expensive to mitigate. The costs associated with your case may be high, especially if your lawsuit drags out for a long time.
If you’re concerned about funding your defense or preserving your assets, consider meeting with a creditor lawyer to discuss your options. Taking the proper steps when a lawsuit is filed against you ensures you’re doing all you can to resolve the issue quickly and with as few financial and legal repercussions as possible.