Iâ€™m Being Sued in Georgia -- Now What?
Being sued can throw sensible people into a panic. A lawsuit is an adversarial process that looks a lot like a very polite fight, and the sums of money at stake can be high. You might feel angry or betrayed by the plaintiff and want to take immediate action. But if youre being sued, theres no need to panic -- you wont necessarily end up in debt or in years of nasty litigation. If youre worried, take some time to learn about your case and your rights.
Understand Your Lawsuit
If youre being sued, the chances are that youve already tried and failed to resolve the dispute informally. But your first formal notice that youre being sued in Georgia is when youre served with a complaint. A complaint is the legal document that the other side, or their Atlanta lawyer, wrote to explain the problem as they see it, and the laws that apply. Read the complaint carefully to learn what exactly the other side is asking for. The complaint might make outrageous claims, include people who arent involved in the dispute, or ask for far more money than you think the dispute is worth. Dont worry -- youll get a chance to ask the court to remove things like this.
If your insurance will not pay for an lawyer, and you want to hire your own, do it as soon as you receive the complaint. Your lawyer will know if there are legal grounds to have the lawsuit dismissed (thrown out) or to have parts of the complaint stricken out, but you have to move quickly. By law, you must file a legal document called an answer within the short period of time specified by law, or the amount asked for in the complaint can (and probably will) be awarded against you.
Look for an Atlanta attorney who has handled many cases similar to yours, especially if someone you trust can recommend him or her. Tell the lawyer everything you know about the case, even if its embarrassing to you. You can represent yourself, but its best to do so only in magistrate (small claims) court, which is specifically designed for people without attorneys. Experts dont recommend acting as your own lawyer in other kinds of lawsuits, because its easy to lose after just one mistake. Whatever you do, dont ignore the complaint. If you dont answer the complaint at all by the deadline, you might lose automatically. You could then have your paycheck garnished and your property seized to pay the amount awarded against you.
If you dont want to be involved in the lawsuit, the best thing to do is to try to work out the dispute informally. You can reach an agreement -- called a "settlement" in the legal world -- at any time before trial. If you owe money to the other person, you may be able to stop the lawsuit just by paying it or setting up a payment plan. If its possible, set up a meeting with the other party to discuss it; they may want to include their lawyer, which is permissible. When discussing the case, keep in mind that a lawsuit is time-consuming, stressful and often expensive. However, you may be able to negotiate a good settlement if the plaintiffs case is weak
Do You Need Help Filing an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you were injured in Atlanta or any other place in Georgia, and youre considering filing a lawsuit, Atlanta injury lawyers Stokes & Kopitsky for a free consultation. We have more than 30 years of experience in personal injury cases, including cases of car, truck, SUV and motorcycle accidents; injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists; accidents due to dangers on property; and workers compensation; including cases of wrongful deaths or serious brain injury. Weve won millions of dollars for our injured clients -- money that can help them get medical treatment, make ends meet and get back on their feet. And because we know injured people sometimes have financial trouble too, we work for a contingency fee, so we dont get paid until and unless we win your case. For a free evaluation of your case today, call Stokes & Kopitsky at 1-800-552-9200, or (404) 892-0011 in Atlanta.