What to Do If You Are Sued (video)

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Being sued can be scary but do not ignore a court case.
When you are sued, you should get served with a summons and complaint. This is called being “served.”

Read all documents carefully.
Read the complaint to find out who is suing you and why you are being sued.
The person suing you is the plaintiff, and you are the defendant.
Read the summons to find information about important deadlines and hearing dates.

It is important to file an answer to the complaint.
This tells the court your side of the case.
File your answer before the deadline listed on the summons.

If you do not file an answer, the plaintiff will probably get whatever is asked for in the complaint.
This could be a money judgment, a divorce, a custody order, an eviction, or something else.

In your answer, respond to each paragraph of the complaint with “I agree with this paragraph”, “I disagree with this paragraph”, or “I don’t know if this paragraph is true.” If you disagree, say why you disagree.

You can also use your answer to raise defenses.
A defense is a good reason the plaintiff should lose the case or not get what is requested in the complaint.

You can also file a counterclaim if the plaintiff harmed you.
A counterclaim tells the court you believe the plaintiff owes you money or some other relief. In a divorce case, a counterclaim also lets you continue the case if the plaintiff decides to dismiss it.

Filing an answer, defenses, or counterclaim does not mean the plaintiff’s case will go away. It tells the court your point of view and keeps you actively involved in the case.
Make sure you attend all hearings and respond to any filing deadlines.

Handling a lawsuit by yourself can be hard and you may want to talk to a lawyer about your options.

Learn more at GeorgiaLegalAid.org.

Last Review and Update: Jan 27, 2022
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