We have never had anyone come into our office who was happy about getting served with a lawsuit. Often, we spend a lot of time in the initial meeting listening to why the other side is wrong. The other side may very well be wrong. However, once you have been sued you must deal with the lawsuit until the court agrees with you that the other side is wrong.
Even if you believe the lawsuit you were served with is frivolous, based on lies, you still need to respond to it. Otherwise, what you believe to be a lie becomes the truth in the eyes of the Court. Generally, we tell people not to delay hiring an attorney once they learn that they have been sued. Under the law of North Carolina, you have 30 days from the day you were served to respond to a lawsuit. You can, and often should, seek an additional 30 days from the Court.
Once you have hired a lawyer to deal with a lawsuit, that lawyer should spend some time with you going through the facts of the underlying dispute in order to determine your possible defenses. For instance, in a breach of contract dispute, you and your lawyer should go through the facts to first determine whether there is an enforceable contract. If not, a complaint alleging breach of contract may not succeed.
There will also be procedural questions that need to be addressed which could provide you with additional defenses. One such procedural defense deals with service of process. It is a good idea to make a note of how and when you received the lawsuit so that your lawyer may analyze whether that constitutes good service under the law.
You should also spend some time discussing with your lawyer what a defense of the lawsuit you were served with might cost. If that amount is several times more than what is being sought in the lawsuit, it may or may not make sense to discuss an early attempt at settlement. However, chances are prior to receiving a lawsuit you may have already received, and rejected, an invitation to a discussion regarding resolution. Sometimes, there are considerations other than money that go into whether resolving a lawsuit you were served with is a good idea.
Above all, and we say this to all of our clients, if you have been sued it is critically important that you not panic, and that you refrain from making irrational decisions. Don’t jump on social media to blast the other party, or their attorney, when you have been sued. Don’t destroy the evidence. You should, instead, get strategic about how you are going to deal with the lawsuit. If you begin thinking strategically as soon as you learn of the lawsuit, you may well find at the conclusion of the lawsuit that it was an inconvenience and nothing more. If you fail to respond calmly and strategically, the lawsuit may have far more dire consequences than it would have if you began implementing a plan for resolution as soon as you were served.
If you have been sued, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible in order to discuss how to deal with it. We would be glad to review your situation with to develop a strategic approach for obtaining the best possible outcome under the circumstances.