Personal injury, defamation, medical malpractice, worker’s compensation, real estate, product liability, and other areas of civil law are covered. Unlike criminal proceedings, when convicted defendants are sentenced to prison, civil lawsuit defendants are usually ordered to compensate plaintiffs financially. If you find yourself facing a civil case, remember that the outcome is determined by both your actions and the merits of the case.

Take a look at the Complaint and Summons.

You will receive a copy of the complaint and summons if you are sued. Examine the summons to determine which court the plaintiff has filed the case in, the court fee you must pay to file a written response, and the amount of time you have to respond. The complaint explains why you’re being sued and what the plaintiff anticipates from you or the court.

Timely Response

In civil proceedings, defendants often have 20 to 30 days to file their initial answers. This time limit may be shorter in some cases, which is why you should carefully read the summons. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, you risk having a default judgment entered against you.

Default Decisions

The plaintiff can file a Request for Default if you do not respond within the specified deadline. A default judgment may result in the garnishment of your earnings, as well as the attachment of your bank accounts, autos, and other property. Because a default judgment appears on your credit report, obtaining credit in the future can be difficult.

Default Judgments Cancelled

You can ask for the default judgment to be canceled if you can provide a good reason for not responding to the summons within the time limit. If the verdict is overturned, you will have the opportunity to provide your side of the story.

Consider your options.

When you receive a civil summons, you have several options from which to select. These are some of them:

  • Negotiating. You can try to settle the matter by personally talking with the plaintiff or through your lawyer.
  • You’ve submitted your response.
  • To emphasize your position, you file your answer in court. You get to counter the plaintiff’s accusations and make your own arguments. A default judgment is avoided by filing an answer.
  • More information is required.
    You may request additional information or specifics if you believe the complaint against you is imprecise. This option, however, is not available in all jurisdictions.
  • A motion to dismiss has been filed.
  • In the event of lack of jurisdiction, failure to specify a claim, or improper service of summons, you may file a petition to dismiss the action. If your motion is denied, you have 10 days to file an answer.
  • A cross-complaint is being filed. You may sue the plaintiff by filing a counterclaim based on your case. You can file an obligatory or permissive counterclaim depending on whether your claim is based on the same event that led to the initial claim.

Civil Litigation: A Step-by-Step Guide

There are five or six steps in the civil litigation process. Initial investigation, pleadings, fact discovery, pre-trial, and trial are all part of every case. Depending on the outcome, an appeal may or may not be desired. Due to the fact that disputes that go to court might take months or years to resolve, litigation attorneys try to settle such situations through mediation.


If you’ve been served with a summons that makes you a defendant in a civil matter, it’s critical that you respond promptly. If you’re unsure what to write or how to proceed, speak with a qualified civil litigation attorney as soon as feasible. Your lawyer can also assist you with other elements of your case and represent you in court.