Finding out your business has been named in a lawsuit can come as a shock, particularly if you’ve never been in this situation before. Whether the citation came by certified mail, process server or some other means, the first thing to do is note the date of delivery on your calendar. This date is important because your deadline for responding to the lawsuit is based on the date you received notice. The next thing you should do is call your attorney.
When do I need to respond?
Your response, known as an answer in legal terms, may be due in as few as 10 days after you receive notice your business has been sued, or as many as 26 days, depending on whether the plaintiff filed the action in municipal justice, county or district court. Your time to respond may be extended to 42 days if you were notified of the lawsuit by publication, which is, incidentally, the least common method of providing notice.
The point of this confusing deadline recitation is to emphasize the importance of contacting your lawyer as soon as possible so you don’t miss the deadline.
What happens if I don’t respond?
If you ignore the lawsuit and do nothing, the plaintiff will ask the court for a default judgment and the court will issue a judgment against your business in due course. A default judgment basically means the plaintiff gets whatever was asked for in the lawsuit. You don’t want this to happen, even if you believe your business was at fault. It would be better to answer the lawsuit in a timely manner and proceed to work out a settlement you believe to be fair.
What should my answer say?
First, your answer should identify your business and your attorney, along with current contact information. You may also state whether you consent to email service for future filings. As for substantive content, your answer may generally deny the plaintiff’s claims, deny the claims in part or admit the plaintiff’s claims.
If you have specific defenses, such as you’ve already paid the invoice you’re being sued for, your answer should clearly state your defense. An experienced business litigation attorney can explain various potential defenses to you and develop a strategy to minimize your losses and protect your business.
Call for business litigation help
For help navigating a legal action involving your business, contact an experienced Bryan, Texas business law attorney at Peterson Law Group. The attorneys at Peterson Law Group have extensive experience in business law matters, from start-ups to business litigation and succession planning. Call 979-703-7014 today to schedule a consultation and get the advice you need protect your business.