What to do if you get sued?
If you get sued, it is important that you take initiative right away. Being sued can be intimidating, and rightfully so as it is a serious matter. The first steps you make are crucial. A lawsuit begins by the Plaintiff(s) filing a complaint against the Defendant(s). The complaint lays out the factual background, causes of action, and the recovery that the Plaintiff(s) is seeking. As the Defendant, under Ohio law, you have twenty-eight days to answer the complaint. The clock for the twenty-eight days starts ticking on the date that you are officially served.
“What do I do first?”
The first step you should take is to contact an attorney. An experienced attorney can advise you on the allegations contained within the complaint and how to proceed. In some instances, you may have the opportunity to file a counterclaim or cross-claim against another party to the action. It is possible that the case has no merit to it and can be dismissed. It may even be possible that you were wrongly named in the suit and you can motion to court to be dismissed. An experienced attorney will advise you of the options and if any of them fit your situation.
“What happens if I don’t do anything?”
Not taking action once you have been served is not a good idea. If you do not respond to the complaint within the twenty-eight days allowed by Ohio law, the Plaintiff(s) can file for a default judgment. By not responding you are therefore admitting all of the allegations in the complaint. A default judgement essentially means that the Plaintiff(s) wins by default because you took no action. For example, if the Plaintiff sued you for $25,000.00 for breach of contract, the court will enter a judgment against you in that amount.
The best way to proceed when you are served with a complaint is to contact an experienced attorney immediately. Whether you believe there is merit to the claim(s) or not, there are consequences for not acting. To speak with an experienced attorney about a complaint that was served on you, contact our offices at 330-673-3444.