1) Read Your Legal Papers Carefully. Usually a lawsuit is served with a summons and complaint. The summons should tell you where you will need to file a response and in what court. The complaint will explain the subject matter of your lawsuit. Read carefully all of the claims presented in the complaint and address them individually. You must address every item individually if you want to resolve your case as soon as possible.
2) Prepare to file some response with the court within 30 calendar days from the date you received the legal papers (or sooner). The clerk at the court should be able to tell you when your response to the complaint is due. Do not fail to respond to a lawsuit as you may get a default judgement entered against you. This may affect your credit score, or render you personally liable for a debt regardless of the merits of the lawsuit. All without having your side of the story or defense presented to the court.
If a default judgment is entered against you, you may need to file a motion to vacate entry of default and default judgment, which could cost you on average $2,500.00 or more in legal fees. Save yourself the cost, and fulfill your obligation to respond on time. Most courts will allow you to file an application for extension of time to respond to the complaint.
3) Learn Your Costs. In San Francisco Superior court, for example, it costs every party in an unlimited civil case $410.00 simply to file an answer or respond to a complaint if someone sues you. You should also have a clear understanding of your attorneys expectations in billing. Do not wait for a surprise bill from your attorney. Most attorneys in San Francisco and lawyers in San Jose or Alameda Superior Court are reasonable and will work with you to accommodate your legal budget for your lawsuit or small business lawyer needs.
4) Create a calendar. You should know your dates and what will be expected of you as a party appearing in the Superior Court of the State of California or the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. If you need help, ask an attorney.