Lawsuit Answer Forms | How To Respond To A Civil Lawsuit
What Forms Do I Need To Answer A Civil Lawsuit?
Everyone wants to avoid a lawsuit. Unfortunately, that isn't always possible. Whether you are being sued by an unscrupulous debt collector, or a business associate has reneged on a contract, sometimes we are forced to get involved in the civil court system.
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 in court.
Fortunately, this is not nearly as difficult as you may think. The average person has been conditioned to think that the legal system is overly complicated and can only be navigated by experienced attorneys. However, once you think about it, you will realize that is clearly not the case and the vast majority of the law is based on simple common sense.
In 75% of all civil lawsuits in the U.S., at least one party is not represented by an attorney. That means that thousands of people represent themselves in court on a daily basis. Do not be intimidated by needlessly complex legal jargon. As you will see, the basics of responding to a lawsuit are not nearly as complicated as the legal industry makes it seem. If you have been wrongfully accused in civil court, you can (and should!) protect your rights by representing yourself.
Once you understand how to fill out some basic legal forms, you can competently respond to a lawsuit without an attorney. Do not be afraid to take matters into your own hands.
Lawsuit Answer Form
The summons will explain that you must appear in court by filing an answer within the period of time indicated (30 days in most states). 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. You must also make sure that your answer is correctly formatted. Otherwise, you risk rejection by the court clerk and/or facing a motion to dismiss from the opposing party!
Most civil answers in state courts have the following format:
- A case caption that includes basic information about the case.
- An introductory sentence, wherein you state who you are and that you are hereby answering the plaintiff’s complaint.
- Admissions and denials.
- A list of any affirmative defenses you plan on asserting.
- Any counterclaims you are bringing against the plaintiff.
- A ‘Prayer for Relief’ wherein you ask the court what, exactly, you want them to do about this case.
Request For Production Form
After a complaint and answer have been filed, both parties engage in discovery, wherein they are legally obligated to provide all relevant evidence to the other party. This process begins by sending and responding to 'Requests For Production of Documents' (common referred to as an RFP). All the form packages below include state-specific forms and templates for sending and responding to RFPs. You need to make sure that your individual requests comply with your state's rules of civil procedure. Otherwise, the defendant will likely ignore your requests. Likewise, if your objections are not in compliance with state law, you may face a motion to compel from your opponent.
These are the basic forms you need to be aware of before you file a response to a civil lawsuit. Of course, any case can get more complicated and there are many other types of legal forms not covered here. However, if you need to file an answer to a lawsuit, but cannot afford an attorney, having a good grasp of the above concepts will enable you to begin your defense and start gathering evidence.
In addition to the forms mentioned above, our lawsuit answer packages also include a comprehensive legal glossary and a booklet about interviewing witnesses and offering objections. Click on the links below for more information.
Our forms and guides will give you the tools you need to represent yourself in court. All our products are currently 20% for a limited time! Respond to your lawsuit today!
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