Self Help - Consumer Defense

Please Note



Nothing on this web site should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm, or any of our attorneys. The information here is general in nature and should not be viewed as applying to your specific circumstances. Only a qualified consumer rights attorney can advise you about your specific situation. Hyde & Swigart are California consumer rights attorneys. State laws, and the interpretation and rulings on federal laws, are different in each jurisdiction. If you feel you need consumer rights legal advice, contact Hyde & Swigart at (619) 233-7770 for a free consultation.

It is the opinion of Hyde & Swigart, that if you have been sued, you need the advice of an attorney dedicated to advocating for you and your rights. That is what we do at Hyde & Swigart. We don’t charge you to discuss your case. If you have been sued because you did not pay a debt, you need not fear calling us. We will listen to you, tell you if you have a case, and give you some options - all at no charge. If you feel you need legal help, we urge you to call us at (619) 233-7770 for a free consultation.

However, there are things you can do once you have been sued, or if you believe you are about to be sued. Even if you eventually intend to call a consumer rights attorney, these steps will probably help your case.

(1) If you have been served with a summons and complaint, read all of the documents carefully and do as they say.

You have been sued. Even if you don't owe the money demanded, even if you have an "understanding" with the Plaintiff, even if you can't afford an attorney, even if you don't understand all those legal terms in the legal paperwork, you have been sued, and if you fail to take the correct steps your wages may be garnished, your bank accounts attached, a lein may be placed on your house, your credit damaged, and many other things may happen.

(2) Do not ignore the situation.

The Court is involved now. This will not go away on its own. You have a certain amount of time in which to respond. If you don't want to hire an attorney, which is a big mistake, buy a book on how to defend yourself in Court. You must respond to a summons and complaint in a proper manner, and if you do not, your will lose, automatically. The amount of time to respond is very limited, usually a month or less, so act quickly.

(3) Call the Plaintiff's attorney and try to settle.

See if you can work things out with the Plaintiff's attroney. Normally, this is a mistake at this stage, but if you intend to ignore this and not hire an attorney you may as well give it a try.

(4) File an Answer.

If you do not file an Answer within a certain alloted time, you will lose, by default. It is better to file something, even if you don't know what you are doing, than to not file anything.

(5) Call the Plaintiff's attorney and ask for more time to Answer.

If you are trying to figure out what to do, call the Plaintiff's attorney and ask for more time to answer. You will usually get it. Either way, send a letter to the attorney and memorialize what is agreed on or the fact that the Plaintiff's attorney refused to cooperate.

(6) Do not panic.

People get sued all the time. Don't run out and file bankruptcy. Further, you can't go to jail because of it, and if you take the proper steps it will go much smoother than you imagine. What are "the proper steps?" Hire an attorney!

(7) Gather all your paperwork.

Think "evidence." You will eventually need to prove your case. Get everything together.

(8) Talk with your "attorney friend."

Even non-litigation attorneys, like your divorce attorney, criminal attorney, estate planning attorney, tax attorney, etc., can give you some advice on the proper steps in your particular case.

(9) Give up and pay.

If you really don't want to go to Court and don't want to hire a lawyer, call the plaintiff's attorney and offer the amount demanded.

(10) Don't do it.

It is best not to do this yourself. Ignore all the above and hire an attorney!