| Read Time: 4 minutes | Business Law
what to do when someone sues you Texas

Being sued is a confusing, stressful, and overwhelming experience. The legal complexities and unfamiliar terminology can leave you feeling dazed.

You likely have many questions, like how to respond to a lawsuit, what happens if you ignore a lawsuit, what will happen next, and how a lawsuit will affect your life. But don’t panic. You can take some steps to protect your rights and interests and resolve the dispute as quickly and favorably as possible. 

Below, we answer those questions, outline what to do when someone sues you in Texas, and explain why hiring an experienced litigation attorney can help make the process go more smoothly.

Step 1: Review the Complaint and Gather Evidence

First things first. Carefully review the complaint and understand what the plaintiff, or the person suing you, is claiming and what they want from you. The complaint should state the facts and legal basis of the lawsuit, and the relief or damages the plaintiff seeks.

Next, gather evidence supporting your side of the story, such as contracts, receipts, invoices, emails, texts, photos, videos, witnesses, etc. This evidence is necessary to defend yourself and counter the plaintiff’s allegations. Make copies of all the documents related to the lawsuit and keep them in a safe place.

Step 2: Don’t Ignore the Lawsuit

Ignoring or not responding to a lawsuit can have serious consequences. Doing so will likely result in the court entering a default judgment against you. A default judgment means you lose the case automatically, and the plaintiff can enforce the judgment against your assets or income. It can also damage your credit score and reputation.

In Texas, the response deadline depends on which court the case was filed. Civil District or County Court is 20 days after you are served, plus the following Monday.

For cases filed in Civil Justice Court, the deadline is 14 days after the date served. If that day is a weekend or court holiday, extend it to the next business day. If you need more time, you can file a motion for an extension of time with the court and explain why you need it. 

You should act promptly and respond to the lawsuit within the deadline specified in the summons or citation you received along with the complaint. 

Step 3: Contact Your Insurance Company

Many individuals and businesses have insurance policies that might cover legal claims against them, especially in situations like car accidents, property damage, and personal injury.

These policies typically require prompt notification of any lawsuits. Delaying notification might lead to denied coverage. If your policy applies, the company will likely connect you with an attorney to defend you.

Step 4: Contact a Knowledgeable Texas Litigation Lawyer

Before responding, you should speak with a litigation attorney. Their extensive knowledge of Texas law and court procedures allows them to advise you on your legal options, fight for your rights, and guide you through the legal process. A litigation attorney can:

  • Explain the legal issues and risks involved,
  • Draft your response (answer) or a motion to dismiss,
  • Negotiate a settlement or mediation,
  • Prepare for and conduct discovery,
  • File and respond to motions,
  • Represent you in court, and
  • Appeal the judgment or enforce the judgment if you win.

litigation attorney can also help you avoid making mistakes that could jeopardize your case, such as admitting liability, waiving your rights, or breaking court rules or orders.

Are you ready to make things simple? Book a consultation with Massingill Law now.

Step 5: Understand Your Response Options

Once you have legal representation, your lawyer will guide you through crafting your response to the lawsuit.

This response, called an answer, addresses the allegations against you and details your legal defenses. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, your response may include:

  • Denying all or some of the plaintiff’s claims,
  • Asserting counterclaims and affirmative defenses against the plaintiff, or
  • Raising procedural defenses, such as the statute of limitations expires.

Carefully consider each option with your lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome for your case based on your particular circumstances.

Step 6: Think About Settling the Dispute

Another step you can take after being sued is to consider settling the dispute with the plaintiff. Settling means that you and the plaintiff agree to resolve the lawsuit without going to trial, usually by paying or receiving a certain amount of money or performing or refraining from specific actions. Settling can have many benefits, such as:

  • Saving time and money,
  • Reducing stress and uncertainty,
  • Avoiding a public record of the lawsuit,
  • Having more control over the outcome, and
  • Preserving or restoring a relationship with the plaintiff.

You can settle the dispute at any stage of the lawsuit, before or after filing an answer, during discovery, or even on the eve of trial. You can also use alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, to facilitate the settlement process. 

However, consult your lawyer before settling to understand the pros and cons and negotiate the best terms.

Step 7: Prepare for Trial

If you and the plaintiff cannot settle the dispute, the final step is to prepare for trial. In the trial stage, you and the plaintiff present your evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who will decide who wins the case and what the consequences are. Trial can be a complex and lengthy process involving many steps, such as:

  • Selecting a jury,
  • Making opening statements,
  • Introducing exhibits and testimony,
  • Making objections and motions,
  • Making closing arguments,
  • Receiving jury instructions and verdict, and
  • Requesting post-trial relief or filing an appeal.

To prepare for trial, you and your attorney should review your evidence and strategy, anticipate the plaintiff’s arguments and evidence, practice your testimony and questions, and familiarize yourself with the court rules and procedures.

Don’t Delay. Contact Massingill, Austin’s Litigation Attorneys

Following these steps allows you to take charge of this challenging situation. However, you should not attempt to handle a lawsuit alone. 

If you’ve been served with a lawsuit in Texas, contact Massingill. Located in Austin, our experienced litigation lawyers are dedicated to protecting your rights. With a collaborative spirit and an eye on the bigger picture, we strive for success.

We handle most civil litigation, from business disputes to personal injury claims. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand the complexities of Texas law and can provide the personalized guidance and support you need. 

Contact Massingill today and get the legal representation you deserve.

Where You Can Find Our Austin, TX Office

Author Photo

Joshua Massingill

Joshua Massingill is an attorney practicing in Austin, Texas. He serves on the Texas State Bar’s Law Practice Management Committee, the Leander Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) Board of Directors, and the Success-Werx Board of Advisors. He mentors young entrepreneurs in Leander ISD’s INCubatorEDU program and is active in his church.

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