If you have been served with a summons and complaint, you are probably a defendant in a civil lawsuit. If you are being sued in Small Claims Court, you must appear at the designated time and place to present your defense.
If you are being sued in Superior Court, you generally have 30 days to file an answer with the court. If the lawsuit is seeking to evict you, then you generally have only have five days to file your answer. The 30 day and five day period starts from the day you were served with the summons and complaint, and includes weekends.
Whether you are being sued in Small Claims court or Superior Court, you should immediately seek assistance of an attorney to protect your rights. If you do not take necessary steps to protect your legal rights, a judgment can be entered against you. Once a judgment is entered against you, your wages can be garnished and your bank account can be levied without any notice or warning.
Sometimes, the summons and complaint includes a date and time for a "Case Management Conference." Do not think that you can go to the Case Management Conference, and ask the judge to explain your rights, listen to your case, help you fill out paperwork, refer you to an affordable lawyer, or give you more time! If you have not filed your answer within the allowed time period (generally either 5 or 30 days) then your default will probably be entered. Once your default is entered, the Case Management Conference will probably be canceled. Even if it is not canceled, the judge will probably not let you speak if your default has been entered.
Filing bankruptcy will immediately stop the lawsuit. You will not have to file an answer in Superior Court, or appear in Small Claims Court.
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