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You Got Served: How to Handle Legal Disputes Like a Pro

You don’t wake up one day and think, “this is the day I get sued.” No, this happens in the most unexpected ways, and you’ll be left at a loss, not knowing how to act. Being served papers containing a complaint against you is never a good way to start the day.

But it’s also something that can’t be dismissed outright. Complaints filed in court are non-reversible unless the plaintiff, or the person filing the lawsuit, decides to withdraw their case. This situation can happen through settlement negotiations in mediation.

It’s better to be prepared for situations like these. You don’t know if it can happen, but at least you know what to do when it does. Here are some tips that you can follow in the unlikely case that you’re handed a complaint filed against you.

Contact a Lawyer Immediately

When you’re handed a complaint, the right thing to do is to contact an attorney immediately. Do not try to handle this yourself — seeking professional advice is the best way to handle this situation. The worst thing you could do is contact the other party directly and speak to them without your lawyer present.

Your legal guidance can vary depending on the complaint filed against you. If your plaintiff is suing you for cases such as a breach of contract, copyright infringement, or fraud, you’ll need the services of commercial litigation lawyers. If the complaint is filed against your company, you might need a corporate lawyer to represent you in the negotiations.

Remember not to sign any documents handed to you unless your attorney has read through the fine prints. If your case is taken to court, you have the right to a jury trial unless you carelessly signed away your right to it by agreeing to arbitration.

Don’t Agitate Your Plaintiff

Never try to get rid of a lawsuit through physicality. Violence is rarely the answer to such situations; that includes threatening or blackmailing your plaintiff because it can negatively affect your case.

Blackmail is a statutory offense that can be considered as extortion or a criminal act in difficult situations. It can carry heavy sanctions such as fines or incarceration for those proven to have committed it.

Blackmailing can be physical threats and emotional or mental harm, which can have adverse effects on the receiver. Resorting to measly threats can also be a huge tell that you are guilty of what you are being accused of and are actively trying to dismiss the case.

Settle the Matter Like Professionals

Do what you can while you can to avoid going to trial. If you can still discuss the matters with your plaintiff during your mediation, then, by all means, do it. Doing so will save you time and avoidable expenses such as court costs and attorney’s fees.

The mediation will be done outside of the courtroom and before the court date, so you can discuss how to settle the complaint. You, the defendant, will negotiate the terms of the settlement with the plaintiff and both of your lawyers.

If you and the plaintiff can agree on the negotiated monetary value, you can sign an agreement that serves as a binding contract. Afterward, you can file the settlement in court, and the case will be closed. You will no longer have to proceed with a trial to sort the issue out.

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Trust Your Attorney to Win Your Case

In the unlikely event that your lawsuit cannot be settled in mediation, you’ll have to proceed with a trial. This can happen if you’ve exhausted all the means you can take to negotiate with your complainant, but they are reluctant to the propositions.

If you believe that you are right in this situation, you have to trust that your attorney can win your case. Provide them with all the necessary documents and pieces of evidence to support your case. Be as honest as you possibly can without sacrificing important information regarding your business or personal life irrelevant to the case.

And most of all, be prepared for anything. You can speak up and assert yourself if you think that there has been a mistrial or coercion of any kind. If you notice any backhanded schemes or bias against you, then let your voice be heard.

Seeking justice is one of the main reasons why lawsuits can go to trial. But if it can be avoided, it will be better to settle the matters lawfully outside of court so that it will not cost you more time and money.

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