You have been served with legal process and you are now part of a not so exclusive club of people who are forced to defend against a lawsuit. Being sued is one of life’s unpleasant little surprises. You are being dragged into the legal system against your will. What do I do now? Should I hire a lawyer? How long do I have to act? What do I even have to do? What happens if I do nothing? These are all questions that will race through your mind. Understanding the process of a lawsuit is vital to ease your anxiety and to prepare for the battle to come. This Blog, and future Blogs in this series, will explore the legal process from a defendant’s perspective (you are being sued so you are called the defendant). While this Blog is not intended as legal advice, it will hopefully provide a road map for you to understand the process confronting you.
Don’t let it burn a hole in your stomach! Over the course of my career, I have counseled hundreds of clients who have been sued for the first time. My advice for these individuals is always the same. Do not let the lawsuit stress you to the point of illness. You do not want, or need, an ulcer to accompany your lawsuit. You are now a part of a process. The process must take its course and it just does not pay to worry. This is a time for calm and logical thinking.
Go to see a professional. Anyone who is confronted with having to defend a lawsuit should, at the very least, consult with an attorney. Unless the amount you are being sued for is very little, it always helps to get an attorney’s opinion. That old adage which states that a person who represents themselves has a fool for a client, has some truth to it. I am reminded of sound advice I once heard a deputy sheriff give to an individual who was considering representing themselves in a lawsuit. The deputy sheriff asked this individual, “Would you perform surgery on yourself if you needed an operation?” “No way!” responded the individual. This was good advice because it is hard enough to defend a lawsuit without having to learn the legal system while you are doing it. So, an attorney’s opinion, at the very least, can be a big help to anyone being sued.
Make the most of your visit with your attorney. You must be prepared if you want your attorney consultation to be productive. The most important thing for you to do is to gather all the documents, notes, papers, pictures and information that you may have regarding the lawsuit. For example, if you are being sued for a breach of contract, you should probably bring your attorney all the documents you have regarding the contract. The more information you provide the attorney, the better the attorney will be able to determine the defenses that you may have in the case. It is very important to properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a case at the very beginning. This will really help in crafting a strategy for defending the case.
At Fornaro Law our consultations are free. A client should not have to worry about how much money they are spending while trying to explain their situation to their potential attorney. We sit down with our clients and really review their matter. We review the documentation you bring, and ask for more information if we need it. This helps us to formulate a proper strategy to get you out of your situation both as quickly and most cost effectively as possible.
My next Blog will explore the first steps that will be taken in defending your case.