Don’t Lose a Lawsuit by Default

If you have been sued, don’t lose a lawsuit by NOT doing some basic steps.

Note: There are some rare, but important exceptions to the guidelines below. For instance, if you believe the wrong person was sued or you were sued in the wrong jurisdiction, consult a lawyer before doing anything.

Generally, do the following to avoid losing a lawsuit by default:

  • File an “Answer” to the lawsuit with the court clerk before the deadline stated in the papers served with the lawsuit. Your Answer can state anything you want, but “General Denial” is the safest for a defendant. There may be more things your Answer should state under some circumstances (consult a lawyer). An Answer prevents the Plaintiff from going through the process without notifying you of every step and forces the Plaintiff to prove everything they are alleging.
    • If you don’t file an Answer, the judge will just believe everything the Plaintiff stated in the lawsuit and you will lose – by default.
  • Show up to every scheduled hearing. Even if you don’t have a lawyer, being heard by the judge is better than the judge just listening to whatever the Plaintiff is saying.
    • If you fail to appear, it is highly likely the Judge will just let the Plaintiff play ball without you and you will most likely lose – by default.

There are more default issues to consider but the two examples above represent 99% of the reasons defendants lose their lawsuit by default. It makes the Plaintiff’s attorney job super easy.