Defending a Lawsuit
Defendant files ANSWER
Fact finding occurs through DISCOVERY
Any and All MOTIONS
Possible JUDGMENT, MEDIATION or SETTLEMENT is entered.
A TRIAL may occur when settlement is not reached.
1. After being served a complaint and summons either personally by a process server or through the mail, an individual or group has filed a lawsuit against you and this process becomes known as litigation.
2. You will have a specified time frame to file an answer. An answer is a document that must be filed with the court that responds in writing to the allegations set forth in the complaint. It will have the same caption as the complaint and will be filed with the same court.
3. If you fail to answer the plaintiff's complaint, they will file a motion for Entry of Default Judgment. If the judge approves the motion, a formal Default Judgment will be entered ordering you to pay damages. You will have a specified time period to pay the judgment or dispute it.
4. If you feel there is no basis for the claim(s) made against you, you may file a Motion to Dismiss. A Motion to Dismiss shall state why the facts and/or law do not support the claims being made. Again, it is wise to seek the advice of an attorney who has the experience to properly draft an effective motion.
5. If a Motion to Dismiss claim is denied, the Discovery process will continue. Discovery allows for each party to request information including answers to questions and documents. Such requests will come in the form of Admissions (asking you to deny or admit stated facts), Interrogatories (detailed questions concerning the facts of the case) and Production (asking the opposing party to produce relevant documents).
6. Failing to respond to Discovery in a timely or factual manner can lead to severe legal consequences. However, the opposing counsel will typically file a Motion to Compel. A Motion to Compel asks the judge to enforce the Discovery requests against the opposing party. It is important to answer Discovery in a truthful and timely manner even if you do not agree with the information or allegations the opposing party is making.
7. If the lawsuit process continues, typically a party will file a Motion for Summary Judgment. A Motion for Summary Judgment can be brought by either party and asks the Court to make a ruling based on the information acquired in the case as of that point. If the evidence is strong for either party, and the applicable law supports clearly one party's claim, then a judge will make a ruling in the case based on the motion.
8. Most lawsuits then proceed into mediation where a settlement is hopefully reached between the parties. Typically this occurs after each party meets with a mediator who reviews the facts of the case in an independent manner and makes a recommendation. Courts will often require that parties participate in mediation before trial to try to reach a settlement. A settlement reached in mediation will be binding on the parties. Courts hear thousands of claims per year, and this is one way to remedy the conflict without having to enter a courtroom.
9. If mediation is not successful, or the case goes directly to trial, a judge or jury will make a ruling and enter a judgment at the close of all evidence and argument. Trials can often take several days, require expert witness testimony (even in civil trials) and cost several thousands of dollars. It is important that you have a strong claim when bringing a case to the trial process.
10. After the judge enters a judgment, the losing party will have to pay on the judgment. Many parties fail to pay the judgment. Upon failure to act or pay on the judgment, the winning party may need to enforce the judgment. This process requires that the party file a Petition for Contempt, have the opposing party served by a Sheriff and submit proof of service to the Clerk of Court to obtain a Court hearing. The Court will then use legal means necessary to obtain the judgment including garnishment of wages and other income.
At Northwest, we provide registered agent service to receive lawsuits for our business clients.
The information provided is to be used as a tool and a guide for understanding the litigation process. By simply providing this information, Northwest Registered Agent is not liable or responsible for the outcome of any legal matter. We solely provide registered agent and incorporation services. While the information and examples will help you understand the process, it is recommended you consult with an attorney before commencing or defending a lawsuit. Northwest Registered Agent is not authorized and will not provide any information over the telephone or otherwise regarding legal questions or matters.
How to File
How to Defend