You’ve Been Served: What to Do Next
If you have recently “been served”, you may be feeling a mixture of shock and fear. After all, the knowledge that you MUST respond to a civil complaint can be very intimidating, particularly if you had no idea that these proceedings were under away. Instead of panicking, however, there are a series of steps you can take at this point to ensure that you respond to this summons in the most effective and strategic way possible. Under no circumstances should you attempt to ignore this document! Once it has been acknowledged that you have been served a complaint, certain actions may be taken against you after a certain amount of time if you do not respond. Therefore, take a deep breath, and let’s get to work crafting the best strategy for you.
Being Served – What Does it Mean?
The expression “being served” has become one of the most popular terms associated with lawsuits. This is mainly due to the fact that it has been used in TV programs and movies for years! That being said, what does it actually mean to “be served”?
On a basic level, being served means that a court process server has delivered paperwork to yo which details at length a lawsuit that has been filed against you. You will not be “served” if you are being asked to testify as a witness as trial. Only the defendant – the person being accused of wrongdoing in the suit – will be visited by the process server in this manner.
Once the server delivers the paperwork to you, your first step should be to NOT PANIC. Just because a lawsuit has been filed naming you as the defendant does not mean that you are in any form of criminal trouble, nor does it means that you are automatically presumed guilty. This document is solely intended to provide you with a detailed overview of what has been filed and your specific timeline to respond to the complaint.
How to Respond to a Complaint
The paperwork you receive from the process server should give you a very clear idea of the case being created against you by the plaintiff. In fact, this documentation should include the following:
- The name and address of the court involved in the complaint.
- The name of the plaintiff.
- An overview of the complaint being made against you.
- The specific time and date the defendant must appear to respond to the complaint.
- The name of any attorneys involved in the case thus far.
With this information, you can begin to wrap your head around the steps you need to take to protect your interests and move forward with the case. Depending upon the severity of the claims being made against you, it may be in your best interest to immediately consult with an attorney. Finding the right attorney is a combination of location and reputation. For example, a Palm Springs attorney may be perfect for individuals living in the Coachella Valley, but less ideal for someone living 200 miles away.
What to Look For in a Civil Attorney
If you have decided that you would like to hire an attorney as you move forward, you should find someone in your area who offers the best combination of experience and reputation. Depending on the nature of your case, you may find that a specific law firm may be more compatible than others. This type of research will ensure that you don’t end up investing in professional assistance that doesn’t exactly match your needs.
Walker Clark Legal Group’s Personal Injury Attorneys
Our firm has been handling a wide variety of cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. Our attorneys are equipped to work with clients on cases ranging from personal injury to medical malpractice and wrongful death.
With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 394-6554 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.