If You've Been Sued

If You've Been Sued

If you’ve been sued, time is of the essence, and prompt action is in order. Once you’ve been served with the process—in Pennsylvania courts a complaint or praecipe for writ of summons, or in Federal court a complaint and summons—time periods begin to run. Failure to meet those deadlines can lead to a judgment by default, which only complicates the fact of having been sued.

Service of process in the courts of Pennsylvania is generally made by the sheriff of the county in which the plaintiff has filed the action. In Federal court, any person who is at least 18 years old and not a party may serve a summons and complaint.

Generally, in state court, the defendant must file an answer or objections to the complaint within twenty days after service, unless the attorney for the plaintiff agrees to an extension. The time to file an answer in Federal court is 21 days; however, the plaintiff may request that the defendant waive formal service of the complaint. In that event, the defendant need not serve an answer to the complaint until 60 days after the request for waiver was sent.

In Pennsylvania courts, a petition to open a default judgment, filed within ten days of the judgment, will be granted. Otherwise, the defendant must promptly file a petition to open the judgment, provide a reasonable excuse for the untimeliness, and plead a meritorious defense to the complaint. In the Federal system, the court may set aside an entry of default for good cause.

If you’ve been sued, whether in state or Federal court, avoid the complications and unnecessary expense resulting from delay and default, contact Scaringi Law for an initial consultation.


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