What to Do When You’re Being Sued in Civil Litigation
- April 7, 2015
- No comments
There are few things that send people into a panic than being sued in civil litigation and our estate planning blog reviews it this week. It is something about seeing a process server, sheriff or marshal on their doorstep with a court summons. How in the world can you be sued? Panic quickly turns to terror when you realize that your assets are not protected and are potentially free game to the other party because they’re not protected. Will assets in a trust fund be safe?
Fortunately, most people go through life without this hair-raising experience. If you are unlucky enough to be on the wrong end a lawsuit, this edition of our estate planning blog provides valuable information on what to do after you realize what’s happening.
Take Being Sued in Civil Litigation Seriously – Protect Your Assets
The first rule is ignoring a lawsuit will not make it go away when being sued in civil litigation. It doesn’t matter how trivial the matter seems to you. It’s a big deal to the other party; so big that they’re taking the time to actually sue you. Failing to answer the complaint in a lawsuit can result in the court deciding that because you’ve chosen not to take action, you are at fault and will award the plaintiff a default judgement. When a default judgement occurs, the plaintiff can go to your bank and freeze every asset you have as well as put lien on any property you own. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until checks start bouncing and you find that your account is frozen.
Limited Time Offer
The defendant in a lawsuit has a limited amount of time to respond to the complaint or make a motion. In some states, defendants may have less than 20 days to respond. Put your rage aside and call your lawyer immediately.
You Think You Don’t Need a Lawyer When Being Sued in Civil Litigation
You’re not a legal expert, so get a lawyer. Just because you know a paralegal, doesn’t mean you should handle this alone. In fact, some states require an attorney appear in court on behalf of the corporation named in a lawsuit. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you decide you don’t want to pay attorney fees, you might not have any money left to pay anyone else. Bite the bullet and let the attorney do their job when being sued in civil litigation. Remember your family’s trust is on the line.
Choose the Right Attorney for the Job When Being Sued in Civil Litigation
If you need heart surgery, you aren’t going to see a podiatrist. Likewise, if you are facing a lawsuit, choose a lawyer who’s been down this road before. It’s perfectly fine to ask how many cases he/she has taken to verdict and how many they’ve settled. You need an attorney who’s a skilled negotiator and an experienced trial lawyer.
Tell your Lawyer Everything
Your attorney is your advocate, but they are only as good as the information you give them. Never, ever lie or withhold information from your attorney. Not only does withholding information make you look bad, it puts your attorney at a disadvantage especially if the information withheld is used by the plaintiff’s attorney.
Check your Insurance Policy
Errors and omissions policies or malpractice insurance often offer coverage in the event of a lawsuit. Call your carrier as soon as papers are served. Generally, insurance carriers will provide a lawyer to represent you and handle any negotiations, but that may be a good first line of defense, but you may not want that attorney representing you.
Listen to your Lawyer
In order to benefit from your attorney’s expertise, you have to actually listen to what they say, even if you don’t like it. This is what they do for a living, not you.
It’s Not the Principle of the Thing
No matter which side you’re on, you need to know why you’re in court. Does defending yourself make financial sense? If you are spending tens of thousands on legal fees being sued in civil litigation, but the amount in question is only a few hundred dollars you may want to rethink your strategy and negotiate a settlement. Proving your innocence may be good for your ego, but does it make sense for your bottom line?
Don’t Expect Reimbursement
Unless it’s specifically spelled out in the agreement, you are responsible for your own court costs. Even if the agreement specifies that legal fees are to be paid, it’s rare that the court requires ALL fees to be paid.
Lawsuits are Long-Term Events
Lawsuits are rarely resolved quickly. Motions and the discovery process takes months or years, while you try to maintain a normal life. Lawsuits tend to be cyclical. The best way to get through a lawsuit is to trust your lawyer and be patient.
One Last Tip When Being Sued in Civil Litigation
If you’re being sued in civil litigation, take the time to evaluate your options. Many attorneys advise their clients that they can’t take action to protect their assets once you suspect you may be the object of a lawsuit. Your attorney must understand what fraudulent conveyance is and the statute of limitations on asset transfers. Take every opportunity to make it difficult to be sued, even if you suspect it’s imminent, and it can put you in a better position to negotiate. It isn’t just you’re business your protecting; it’s the trust fund you’ve built to protect it.
For additional information, visit www.ultratrust.com/lawsuits/top-10-things-when-being-sued.html
If you need help strategizing a plan specific to you and your family’s needs, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 538-5872 for a free 30 minute consultation.
TELL US what you think in the Comments Box below. What is the craziest lawsuit you have heard or experienced? Why?