How to Answer A Civil Lawsuit in Texas

 

Thank you for visiting lawsuitforms.org!  In this article, we will go over the basic steps of how to file an answer to a civil lawsuit in Texas District or County Courts (Texas’ general trial courts) without an attorney.  As you will see, the basics of filing an answer to a lawsuit in Texas are not nearly as complicated as they first seem.  Before reading further, it may be helpful to review our ‘Legal Glossary for Non-Attorneys.  If you do decide to move forward with answering your lawsuit, we highly recommend you purchase our Texas Answer to Civil Petition, form packet which includes more detailed instructions, form templates, and samples. 

Drafting the Answer

If you have been sued in Texas, you will have received a citation and a civil petition (also known as a civil complaint) detailing the specifics of the allegations being made against you.  IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU DO NOT IGNORE THE CITATION AND PETITION!!!  You must file an answer to the lawsuit within the time indicated in the petition!  If you fail to do so, 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 petition, regardless of whether or not they are accurate.

In Texas, a response to a civil lawsuit is called an ‘Answer’ and it needs to be written in a specific format.  If your answer is not formatted correctly, it may be rejected by the court clerk!   Generally speaking, an answer to a Texas petition/complaint will be laid out in the following manner:

  • First, there will be the case caption, which contains basic information about the case, such as the names of the parties and the courthouse.
  • Next, comes the title of the pleading, which in this case should be, “Defendant’s Original Answer and Request for Disclosures.”
  • Next, is the General Denial.  In Texas, defendants generally do not have to deny every paragraph of the petition (as is required in most states).  Instead, you simply need to generally deny the claims made against you.  That said, note that there are exceptions!
  • After that general denial comes the ‘Request for Disclosures’, where you ask the plaintiff to provide certain basic documentation about their allegations.
  • After the denial and request for disclosures you need to allege any AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES you may have.  An affirmative defense is a defense that does not depend on the veracity of the plaintiff’s allegations.
  •  After the affirmative defenses, you will want to allege any valid COUNTERCLAIMS you may have against the plaintiff.  A counterclaim is simply a valid civil claim arising from the same set of circumstances.  If you do allege any counterclaims, make sure you properly allege each element of the claim you are bringing.
  • Finally, you should have a brief prayer for relief, wherein you request that the court dismiss all of the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice (and award you your damages if you have filed any counterclaims).

Filing and Serving the Answer

Once you have drafted your answer, you will need to file it at whatever courthouse the petition was filed in and pay the applicable filing fee.  You will then need to serve a copy of the answer on the plaintiff and file a certificate of service.

After an answer has been filed, both sides will engage in ’Discovery’, where they are required to disclose information to each other.  Depending on the discovery level of each lawsuit, the mandatory disclosures may satisfy the needs of both parties.  However, if additional information is needed, the parties can send a ‘Request for Production of Documents to each other, asking for specific documents that are relevant to the case.

Conclusion

This is just a brief outline of how to answer a civil lawsuit in Texas without an attorney.  Of course, the details of any specific case will be slightly more complicated, but as you can see, the basic nuts and bolts of how to file a Texas petition are well within the grasp of the average person.  Anyone can learn how to file an answer to a lawsuit without an attorney.  Our Texas Answer to Civil Petition form packet includes more detailed instructions, as well as templates and samples that are already formatted for Texas courts.  Follow the link above or click the 'Buy Now' button at the top of this page to purchase the form packet.  Thank you for reading!