Often people have an inkling that a lawsuit is coming and they ask me what they need to do. I have the same answer for everyone: Unless you have been served with a complaint or a summons, you do NOTHING. Depending on what level court the lawsuit was filed will determine the way in which you might be served. In the Court of Common Pleas, a deputy from the sheriff’s office will come to your house to serve you or a household member of yours 18 or older, personally. If the case is coming out of small claims court, a constable may serve you personally or you may receive the complaint by certified mail. The paperwork you receive will include the words “A Civil Action Has Been Commenced Against You!” This means that a lawsuit has been filed against you. You’ve been sued. Some instructions for what to do next are included and you are told that you must file a response within 20 days or possibly that a default judgment will be entered against you and you do NOT want this to happen. The complaint or summons will also contain the plaintiff’s name, your name, the county and file number. A lawsuit complaint is usually a set of numbered paragraphs in which the plaintiff gives its version of the facts and asks the court to do something, such as award it the amount of money it claims is owed.
If you have received lawsuit paperwork, don’t wait to get help from an attorney! Relying on advice from friends, family, or internet message boards about how to handle a lawsuit is a mistake. Often, people come to my office after they have represented themselves or not taken any steps to defend the lawsuit but your best chances in defending the case is to secure legal help immediately after being served. Nancy Kanter, Esquire of Pine Street Legal has many years of experience in successfully defending lawsuits filed against clients. Contact Pine Street Legal for the help you need in defending claims against you.