When you answer a knock on your door and a process server is standing on the doorstep, your blood pressure may shoot up. Instead of panicking when served with papers, there are a few simple steps you can take in those first few days that will pay dividends over the course of litigation. This article addresses the six most important things to do as soon as you have been served with a lawsuit.
Served with a Lawsuit?
Below are six steps to take when served with a lawsuit:
- Thoroughly read the entire stack of documents that was served on you from the opposing party. Lawsuits aren’t pleasure reading – they’re often dense and filled with legal jargon and unflattering accusations about you and your business. But it is important for you to understand the parties involved, the claims asserted, and the amount of money at issue.
- Check your insurance policies. Depending on the claims in the lawsuit, you may have an insurance policy that will provide coverage for any damages and possibly a lawyer to defend your business. Reach out to your broker as soon as you are served with a lawsuit and request copies of your policies.
- Gather relevant documents and information. Immediately back up any computer or device that may contain relevant information and save that back up file on a separate hard drive or cloud storage account where it won’t be automatically deleted. Collect and scan any papers. Remember to save emails and text messages as these can be the source of valuable information related to the dispute. Consult with your IT department to put a “litigation hold” in place to preserve relevant documents and communications. Your attorney can assist you in drafting an appropriate litigation hold
- Perform a brain dump. Write down any relevant information that comes to mind. Recording a list of key players, a timeline, and your recollection of in-person meetings or phone calls is crucial while these events are still fresh in your memory. If any of your employees were involved, consult your attorney to determine if it would be beneficial to interview your employees or obtain written statements from them.
- Don’t talk about it. Avoid posting about being served with a lawsuit on social media or sending emails to friends, family, or colleagues. These communications are discoverable in litigation.
- Contact an attorney. After you’ve completed the other steps in this article – or even while you’re moving through that process – you should call an experienced litigator licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction where you’ve been sued.
Act Quickly When Served with a Lawsuit
In state court in Georgia, a defendant has 30 days from the date they were served with the lawsuit to file a response. So, while these preliminary steps are helpful, you should keep your Answer deadline in mind and act quickly. If you or your business has been served with a lawsuit in Georgia, and you need legal advice, please reach out to me.