You’ve Been Served – Now What?
In this article, our lawyers discuss how to defend a lawsuit in Colorado after you have been served.
There’s a knock at the door. When you answer, a stranger hands you a paper and says, “You’ve been served.” That is how it often begins. Out of the blue you are being hauled into court and someone is demanding thousands of dollars from you for an alleged wrong that you have committed. Many in this situation, with thousands of dollars at stake and a lawyer on the other side bringing the claim, need to hire an attorney – a good one, and fast.
Responding to the Summons and Complaint
The “you’re being sued” letter is called a summons and complaint in most cases in Colorado you must file your answer within 21 days. This answer is a critical step in protecting yourself. If you don’t respond, the party suing you could obtain a default judgment. That means they automatically win their lawsuit because you never responded to their claim and they proceed directly to the collections phase. Or an improperly crafted answer may waive important affirmative defenses that must be alleged at the outset.
Once you answer the complaint your case will move into the discovery phase.
The discovery phase is where both sides will have an opportunity to “discover” information about the other side.
There are four mains ways to “discover” information about the other side:
- Interrogatories– written questions
- Requests for Production of Documents – written requests for specific documents
- Requests for Admissions – written questions which are considered admitted if not denied
- Depositions – in person oral questioning under oath
After discovery the court will often require mediation to attempt to settle the case before allowing it to proceed to trial.
What Happens if the Case Goes to Trial?
If a settlement cannot be reached during mediation, the last step is the actual trial which may be held in front of a jury or the judge only. The trial itself consists of many phases:
- Motions in Limine – pre-trial arguments to include or exclude certain evidence
- Jury Selection – question the pool of prospective jurors and choose unbiased jurors
- Opening Statements – facts and a forecast of the evidence that will be introduced
- Plaintiff’s Case – plaintiff may call witnesses and provide other evidence in support
- Defendant’s Case – defendant may introduce their own witnesses and evidence
- Closing Statements– argue to the judge or jury about the evidence and ask for damages
Contact Us for Help
With so much at stake and the technicalities of a lawsuit before you, don’t you think it would be wise to hire an expert? Someone to guide you through the process? Someone to lookout for your best interest? The litigation and trial attorneys at Robinson & Henry can help. We are strong negotiators but ready, willing and able, to defend you at trial if needed. Call us at 303-688-0944 to schedule your case assessment.