I’ve Been Served a Summons & Complaint. Do I Need an Attorney? 

 October 9, 2017

By  LMW Attorneys

If you have been served a summons and complaint, it isn’t always apparent what to do next. While some individuals ignore their summons, this can lead to serious legal repercussions. If you have found yourself in this situation, learn what you need to know about summons and complaints and what you should do below.

What Is a Summons and Complaint?

A complaint is a document that is written by the plaintiff’s attorney that identified the parties involved in a lawsuit, the reason for the lawsuit, as well as the damages sought through the lawsuit. After the complaint is filed and served to the defendant, a lawsuit commences.

A summons is a written notice that is typically accompanied by the complaint. This is used to notify the defendant and the court that the complaint has been served to all relevant parties and that the relevant parties should be aware of the first court appearance.

What to Do If You Have Been Served a Summons and Complaint

1. Figure out your deadline to respond. No matter how you decide to respond to the lawsuit, it is important to do so by the given deadline. In most cases, you will have twenty calendar days from when you received the summons and complaint to file a response. However, the deadline may be sooner than 20 days so be sure to carefully read all of the documents you receive.

2. Consider your options. Upon receiving a summons and complaint, it’s important to consider your options. The most common way to respond to a lawsuit is by filing an answer. This is your opportunity to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations and assert your affirmative defenses, facts, or legal arguments. This signals to the court that you want to defend your case. Beyond filing an answer, your options include filing a motion to dismiss or for a more definite statement, to sue the plaintiff, or to do nothing.

3. Prepare your response. Whether you decide to file an answer or motion with the court, you will likely want to discuss further action with a reputable attorney. There are different procedures for different types of lawsuits (such as student loan related and auto repossession related).

4. File your response. Once you have prepared your response, you will need to file your answer or motion in the district court. In most cases, you can file electronically. If you file in person, be sure you have two copies of your original answer and the filing fee

5. Send a copy of your response to the plaintiff. With most lawsuits, you will need to provide copies of any document you file with the court to the plaintiff. If the plaintiff has an attorney, the document must go to the attorney.

What Happens If I Ignore a Summons and Complaint?

Being sued in undoubtedly stressful, but ignoring the problem is not a good idea. Ignoring a summons and complaint can result in the court awarding a monetary judgment against you by default. Not only can this lead to your wages being garnished, but it can affect your banking and savings accounts, as well as your assets and property.

Keep in mind that if you do nothing, the plaintiff will most likely ask the court for a default judgment.

Seek Legal Advice If You Have Been Served a Summons in Pasco County, Fla.

Being served a summons can be an intimidating and stressful situation, but the experienced attorneys at Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins P.A. can help. Our team is committed to providing outstanding legal representation with honesty, stability and professional integrity while maintaining a reputation for compassion and a caring attitude. If you’re in need of any legal assistance, we want to help. Contact us today for your free consultation at (727) 478-4125.