Receiving a summons:
When you are served a complaint and summons, either personally by a process server or through the mail, an individual or group has filed a lawsuit against you, and this process becomes known as litigation.
Answer the complaint:
You will have a specified time frame to file an answer. An answer is a document that must be filed with the court that responds in writing to the allegations set forth in the complaint. It will have the same caption as the complaint and will be filed with the same court.
It is wise to seek the advice of an attorney before filing an answer. Some defenses, such as Failure to State a Claim and Statute of Limitations, should be raised in the answer, or they may be deemed waived by the Court. These and other defenses are listed in each state’s Rules of Civil Procedure. While the summons will state the time frame necessary for a response, the answer typically needs filing within a 20- to 45-day time frame depending on local court rules.
If you fail to answer the plaintiff’s complaint, they will file a motion for Entry of Default Judgment. If the judge approves the motion, a formal Default Judgment will be entered, ordering you to pay damages. You will have a specified time period to pay the judgment or dispute it.