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How to Answer a Civil Lawsuit In State Court

Whether you are being sued by an unscrupulous debt collector, or a business associate has alleged a breach of contract claim, sometimes we are forced to get involved in the civil court system and respond to a lawsuit, regardless of whether or not we can afford it. In these situations, having a competent attorney by your side is always a good idea. But what happens when you can't afford to spend $10,000-$20,000 on an attorney?

With access to free legal services being woefully inadequate, many people have no choice but to represent themselves and respond to a civil summons and complaint. Fortunately, this is not nearly as difficult as you may think. Once you understand the basic process and learn a few legal terms, you will see that the legal system is primarily based on simple common sense. Keep reading below to learn more about the basic steps in answering a lawsuit.

How to respond to a lawsuit

If you do need to respond to a lawsuit, we offer forms and guides for the following states: 

-California
-Florida
-Georgia
-Illinois
-Michigan
-New Jersey
-New York
-North Carolina
-Ohio
-Oregon
-Pennsylvania
-Texas

Each package is a 100% digital download (no shipping required). They include state-specific instructions, lawsuit answer form templates, and samples for responding to a civil summons and complaint. It will allow you to file a professional response on par with anything drafted by an attorney.

Our lawsuit answer forms and guides are 20% off for a limited time and come with a 100% money-back guarantee! 

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The Basic Steps to Answering a Lawsuit

Step 1. Being Served with a Summons and Complaint

A complaint is the initiating document that lays out a plaintiff's claims. It informs the defendant and the court how the plaintiff has been wronged by the defendant and how the plaintiff should be compensated. When a lawsuit has been filed against you, you will be formally served with a copy of the complaint as well as a 'summons', which makes you legally obligated to respond to the allegations in the complaint.

Some examples of common civil lawsuits are:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Negligence
  • Unpaid Wages
  • Wrongful Termination
  • Race/Sex Discrimination
  • Disability Discrimination
  • Battery
  • Trespass
  • Nuisance
  • Defamation (slander/libel)
Answer to Civil Complaint Sample

If you have been served with a summons and complaint, you will need to file a response (known as an 'Answer') in the same court where the complaint was filed. Our lawsuit answer forms and samples will help you do so in a professional manner.

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Pretrial motions

Step 2. Pretrial Motions

Occasionally, a defendant may want to file a motion to dismiss, a motion to strike, or another pretrial motion before filing an answer to the plaintiff's complaint. 

For example, if the defendant feels the complaint fails to properly allege all the elements of a claim for relief, they can file a motion to dismiss the case, forcing the plaintiff to respond and inform that court why their case should be allowed to proceed.

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Step 3. Filing an Answer to the Summons and Complaint

If the defendant does not file an early motion, they will need to respond to the allegations in the complaint. Once served, they will need to file an answer within the time indicated in the summons (usually around 30 days).

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU DO NOT IGNORE THE SUMMONS!
If you do, a default judgment will likely be entered against you and you will be forced to pay the plaintiff all of the damages they alleged in their complaint, regardless of whether or not they are accurate. In your answer, you will either admit or deny the specific allegations made against you in the complaint. You should also lay out any valid affirmative defenses and counterclaims you may have against the plaintiff.

Answer to Civil Complaint
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Request for production

Step 4. Sending and Responding to Requests for Production

Once your answer has been filed, both sides will engage in ’Discovery’, where they are required to disclose information to each other. These disclosures are made by each party sending the other a 'Request for Production of Documents’ wherein they ask for specific documents that are relevant to the case. Our lawsuit answer package contains forms, samples, and instructions on how to send and respond to requests for production.  Discovery often includes depositions of witnesses as well.

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Step 5. Presenting your Evidence in Court

After discovery is complete, a hearing or trial will be set and both sides will present their case to a judge, jury, or private arbitrator. This includes submitting exhibits and interviewing witnesses.

Once both sides are finished presenting their claims and defenses, the judge or jury will find in favor of one party or the other.

How to represent yourself in court
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File An Answer On Your Own

Our state-specific legal guides will show you how to file an answer to a summons and complaint, send and respond to requests for production, introduce exhibits, offer objections, and interview witnesses at a hearing or trial. All without an attorney. Forms, samples, and templates for filing an answer and sending/responding to requests for production our included. Click on your state below for more information.

Start your lawsuit answer today!

Money back guarantee

We offer a 100% money-back guarantee! If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, fill out our refund request form within 14 days and we will give you a full refund! Click here for details.

California Civil Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in California
How to file a lawsuit in California
California Civil Complaint Sample
California Civil Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in California
How to file a lawsuit in California
California Civil Complaint Sample

California Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
Florida lawsuit forms
How to file a lawsuit in Florida
Florida lawsuit sample
Florida lawsuit
Florida lawsuit forms
How to file a lawsuit in Florida
Florida lawsuit sample
Florida lawsuit

Florida Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
Georgia Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation Georgia
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court
Georgia Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation Georgia
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court
Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

Georgia Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99
Illinois Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Illinois
How to file a civil complaint Illinois
Illinois civil complaint sample
Illinois Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Illinois
How to file a civil complaint Illinois
Illinois civil complaint sample

Illinois Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
File a lawsuit answer a lawsuit
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
Michigan Complaint Example
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
File a lawsuit answer a lawsuit
How to file a lawsuit in Michigan
Michigan Complaint Example

Michigan Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
New Jersey Lawsuit Forms
How to file or answer a lawsuit in New Jersey
New Jersey Lawsuit Guide
New Jersey Civil Complaint Sample
New Jersey Lawsuit Forms
How to file or answer a lawsuit in New Jersey
New Jersey Lawsuit Guide
New Jersey Civil Complaint Sample

New Jersey Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
New York Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in New York
How to file lawsuit New York
New York civil complaint sample
New York Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in New York
How to file lawsuit New York
New York civil complaint sample

New York Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
North Carolina Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in north carolina
How to file a lawsuit in North Carolina
North Carolina Civil Complaint Sample
North Carolina Lawsuit Forms
Intro to civil litigation in north carolina
How to file a lawsuit in North Carolina
North Carolina Civil Complaint Sample

North Carolina Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
Ohio civil lawsuit forms
Ohio lawsuit forms
Ohio Lawsuit Guide
Ohio civil complaint sample
Ohio civil lawsuit forms
Ohio lawsuit forms
Ohio Lawsuit Guide
Ohio civil complaint sample

Ohio Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
Oregon lawsuit answer forms
How to answer a lawsuit in Oregon
Oregon lawsuit answer format
Oregon sample answer to a civil complaint
Oregon lawsuit answer forms
How to answer a lawsuit in Oregon
Oregon lawsuit answer format
Oregon sample answer to a civil complaint

Oregon Lawsuit Answer Forms

$34.99
Pennsylvania lawsuit forms
Intro to civil litigation in Pennsylvania
How to file a lawsuit in PA
Pennsylvania civil complaint sample
Pennsylvania lawsuit forms
Intro to civil litigation in Pennsylvania
How to file a lawsuit in PA
Pennsylvania civil complaint sample

Pennsylvania Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$34.99
Texas Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Texas
How to File a Lawsuit In Texas
Texas civil petition sample
How to answer a lawsuit in Texas
Texas Lawsuit Forms
How to file a lawsuit in Texas
How to File a Lawsuit In Texas
Texas civil petition sample
How to answer a lawsuit in Texas

Texas Lawsuit Forms - Represent Yourself In Court

$29.99