What to do if I’m being sued for negligence?

UPDATED: Sep 18, 2011

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What to do if I’m being sued for negligence?

A lady claimed that she slipped on ice in front of my house 9 months ago. She further claimed that I was at the window looking at her without helping, supposedly at 4:45 am. I was just made aware of this. I have 20 days to answer her attorney. What is my recourse?

Asked on September 18, 2011 under Personal Injury, New York


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you have homeowner's insurance, contact your insurance company.  The insurance company will handle the matter and will provide you with an attorney at no cost to you.

If the above option is not available, then you will need to file with the court an answer to the complaint within 20 days of the date you were served.  The complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons.  You will also need to serve the opposing attorney by mail with your answer to the complaint within 20 days of the date you were served with the summons and complaint.

At the law library, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint.  The answer denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification which you sign and date under penalty of perjury.  The verification attests to the veracity of your statements in the answer.  File your answer to the complaint with the verification and an attached proof of service with the court and serve these documents by mail on the opposing attorney.  You can use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing of the docuiments to the opposing attorney.  If you write your own proof of service, it just says that you are at least 18 and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to _________ (name and address of opposing attorney) on __________ (date).  You sign and date the proof of service at the bottom.  The date you sign should be the same as the date of mailing and the same date you file your documents with the court.

If you don't file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve it on the opposing counsel by mail within twenty days of the date you were served, the opposing attorney will file a request for default with the court.  This means you have lost by default and judgment is entered against you.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants your motion to set aside the default, the case is then back on track and litigation will continue.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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