Most people have an extremely negative reaction when they learn that they, or their business, are being sued. There are some things to consider doing in order to avoid making a potentially costly mistake when faced with a lawsuit.
First, take a deep breath. Next, read the tips listed below to assist you in avoiding common mistakes made by people and businesses who have been sued.
- When the process server comes to the door, with the complaint, make sure your name is on it before you accept it.
- Do not speak to the process server other than to confirm receipt of what is being served on you (once you determine that your name, or your company’s name, is on the complaint).
- Accept service once you determine that the summons is addressed to you; avoiding service or running away from the process server may have consequences.
- Call your lawyer and schedule an immediate appointment. Generally, you only have 20 days, absent an extension, to respond to a Complaint.
- Retain the lawyer by signing his or her retainer agreement.
- Calendar the date your response is due to the complaint (usually 20 days from service).
- Download all of your relevant emails and other documents and send them to your lawyer; do not destroy anything.
- Make a list of everyone that may corroborate your story and provide the list (names, addresses, and telephone numbers) to your lawyer, along with a description of everything these individuals may know.
- Explain to your employees (if applicable) what the lawsuit means and instruct them not to speak to anyone about it other than you and your lawyer.
- Avoid talking about the lawsuit or dispute in general – don’t call your adversary, your friends, or your Mom to tell them about the case. Avoid posting on social media. It may come back to haunt you later. It is always best to consult with your attorney about any actions or communications that you are contemplating to navigate you through this process.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a general place to start if you are served with a lawsuit and want to avoid common mistakes. Do not forget that one of the most important decisions you will make is hire an attorney to represent you. You should always be sure to hire experienced attorneys like those at Haber Slade who are well-versed in handling complex business litigation matters.
Roger Slade is a partner with the Miami law firm of Haber Slade. Throughout his 28 year career, Mr. Slade has handled all types of litigation matters including business fraud, class-actions for both Plaintiffs and Defendants, real estate litigation, privacy litigation, commercial collection matters, employment discrimination claims, general business disputes and international family law matters.