Help! I’ve Just Been Sued. Why To Consult A Lawyer For Lawsuit Defense.

Being dragged into a lawsuit may not be as dramatic as portrayed in Hollywood, but the way it begins is often similar. You hear an ordinary knock on the door and find an ordinary person on the other side—often your friendly U.S. Postal worker. Suddenly, you’re handed a large envelope and asked to sign for delivery. The first word you see inside the envelope is “SUMMONS” followed by a wrenching in your gut. On the following pages you see “Complaint” and “Damages” and a fancy law firm’s name at the end. You were just served with a lawsuit. It’s time to consider lawsuit defense.

What To Do Next? 

The answer, predictably, is one easily found through a quick internet search: call a lawyer. But usually missing in those search results is why. Why start blindly contacting lawyers and law firms, accepting you’ll have to place all your trust in them without necessarily knowing why? We’ll answer these questions here. 


Time is the most concerning component of lawsuit defense. Different jurisdictions set different time requirements on responding to a lawsuit. However, many require a response within 30 days from the date that envelope hit your hand. Inside the envelope was probably a court filing called a “Complaint” (which starts the lawsuit). The law requires you to file a court document of your own in response called an “Answer” within the time requirement, sometimes 30 days. 

Sounds simple so far, right? Here’s the problem: how do you write an Answer and what do you say and where do you send it anyway? This is where a lawyer can add value right away. However, the lawyer you hire to prepare your Answer needs time—time to investigate the allegations and legal claims of the Complaint and time to carefully draft the document that ultimately becomes your Answer. The last thing you should do is wait one, two, or even three weeks after receiving the lawsuit to contact a lawyer. The sooner you hire an attorney, the more likely that lawyer will have the time to draft and file a finely crafted Answer on your behalf. Don’t allow time to become your enemy here. 

Service of Process.

This is a very common phrase used in the law that, frankly, could have a simpler name. Service of process refers to how you are notified of the legal process someone else initiated. If that legal process is against you or involves you, you must be notified of it legally. Most jurisdictions have very specific rules on how someone must be notified of a lawsuit. For example, in Tennessee, the aforementioned envelope cannot just be placed in your mailbox or left on your doorstep for you to find. For businesses, the envelope likely must be delivered to an officer of the business or the business’s registered agent. A lawyer can quickly determine if the specific service of process rules were followed. If they haven’t, your lawyer can likely assert a strong defense that the lawsuit should not get off the ground, or should even be dismissed. 

Frivolous Claims.

We all want to believe people don’t sue others for no reason. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. The law offers the broad ability to initiate a lawsuit about almost anything. But while lawsuits can be freely initiated, they cannot move forward if their claims are frivolous. The Complaint filed must list valid legal claims consistent with the law in that jurisdiction. Here is another opportunity for a lawyer to add significant value. Your lawyer will quickly notice if the Complaint lacks valid legal claims and file a motion to dismiss the Complaint on your behalf. If successful, some jurisdictions even allow you to recover your attorney’s fees from the opposing party as a punishment for starting a frivolous lawsuit.

Just a Few Reasons Why.

The why of it is, you will miss valuable opportunities to defend yourself in a lawsuit if you go it alone. Skilled lawyers use some of the strategies above, and many more, to put your lawsuit defense in the best possible position. A lawyer’s job is to help you solve problems like getting sued. Don’t hesitate to call any attorney and say, “Help! I’ve Just Been Sued.” They’ll know what to do.

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