I was served a Summons As Defendant for a Civil Case on July 19,2013. I met with a Lawyer who sail he would respond but did not. I found out an August 19, 2013 in late afternoon. What should I do?
5 Answers from Attorneys
You had better get an extension from opposing counsel or the opposing party immediately. You need an attorney who will assist you. If you hired the attorney to handle the case for you, and he did not file on time, you may have to contact the state bar.
Check with the Court to make sure a default has not already been entered against you. If not, then you should ask opposing counsel to give you an extension. Try to get a lawyer as soon as possible. Without knowing what the lawsuit is about, it is hard to say how complex it is, but as a general rule it is very difficult for a person to represent themselves well. Good luck.
Retain new counsel immediately. If a default is entered by the court before you respond, your attorny can get it set aside, but it costs more money.
The first thing you should do is call the lawyer and ask her for an explanation. You may be right that she has neglected your case. But I can think of several reasons why you could be wrong.
Did you actually hire this lawyer? You say only that you "met with" her. If she told you what she would do after being hired but you then did not hire her, you should not expect her to act as if you did. She is not required to start representing you unless and until you reach an agreement and fulfill any conditions it requires of you (e.g. signing a written contract, paying some or all of the fee, delivering your file, etc.).
Even if you did hire her, the fact that she hasn't answered yet does not necessarily mean there is a problem. It's very common for defense counsel to ask for additional time to respond, and it's very common for plaintiff's counsel to agree. It's also possible that you were not served correctly even if you believe that you were.
Note also that missing the due date for an answer does not automatically create any problems for you. The court will not enter a default against you unless and until the plaintiff asks it to. Even then, in most cases the default will not include a judgment. The judgment would come later, after the plaintiff takes additional steps. There are usually ways to have a default -- and even a default judgment -- set aside so that the defendant may present his side of the case.
So while you may indeed have a problem on your hands, there is a very good chance that you don't or at least that it is less serious than you think. It's also possible that the lawyer you met with has no duty to represent you. These are issues you need to investigate right away. You should start by calling the lawyer.
you should call the opposing attorney and get an extension. Then seek a new attorney.
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