February 12, 2015

You’ve Been Served, Now What?

Notice of LawsuitThere are many pop culture references to the phrase “you’ve been served,” which generally is associated with a phrase allegedly said by process servers when notifying a person they have been sued.  Even the Urban dictionary defines the phrase “you got served” as “you got skooled or beating very badly.”  That’s not very comforting, but somewhat appropriate.

The process of being served in itself is intimidating and overwhelming, let alone the reality you have been sued.  The reality you have been sued is a beating.  But at the point you receive proper notice of being sued, a countdown begins.  That countdown is the time frame in which you should respond because if you fail to do so, a default judgment may be ordered against you.  Essentially, a failure to respond within the alloted time is seen as a waiver of any denials or defenses you may have.

Rule 99(b) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a person being sued file with the Court of jurisdiction a written answer, asserting denials and defenses, to the petition initiating the lawsuit by or before 10:00 am on the Monday following twenty days after the date of service.  For example, if you are served on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, then twenty days after is Tuesday, March 3, 2015.  Therefore, your answer would be due by or before 10:00 am on Monday, March 9, 2015.

Being sued is no laughing matter.  However, the inconvenience of a lawsuit can be minimized by acting wisely, which begins with answering the lawsuit within the requisite time.  As always, if you have been sued and are unsure of how to proceed, seek legal counsel.  It will likely cost you less to respond properly the first time versus having to hire someone to correct a situation in which mistakes were made because you did not fully understand your rights.

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