If you have been sued, here are the top three things to do:
- IMMEDIATELY CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY: If you have been sued for a car accident, something that happened inside your home, or for any other situation where you might have insurance to cover the claim, immediately contact your insurance company and notify them of the lawsuit. In situations like these, the insurance company has a duty to hire an attorney to defend you, but only if you promptly notify them. In Oklahoma, you or your attorney only have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit or a default judgment could be entered against you, so it is imperative that you contact your insurance company immediately. This gives your insurance company enough time to retain an attorney on your behalf and for the attorney to properly respond to the lawsuit.
- CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have been sued (and you do not have insurance or your insurance is not going to defend you), immediately contact an attorney. As we mentioned above, you only have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit once you have received it. If a default judgment is entered against you for failing to respond, it can be very hard, if not impossible, to get a default judgment overturned. It is much easier to simply respond on time and never have the default judgment entered against you, than to try and get a default judgment overturned.
- DO NOT POST ANYTHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA: This one may seem completely obvious or at least it should seem completely obvious, but defendants (and even some plaintiffs) post things on Facebook or Twitter or some other social media site that is damaging to their case. In one case, I was representing a jailer that had been accused of strip searching a woman. This was the central issue in the case, whether or not what happened was in a strip search. Well, unfortunately, the attorney for the plaintiff found that my client had posted on myspace “a strip search with every accommodation” as her quote. This was very damaging and we ultimately lost the case. Likewise, 50 Cent is currently involved in a bankruptcy case. Recently, he has posted photographs of himself with large piles of cash. Because he has been posting these pictures, he was summoned to court to explain to the judge whether he was hiding assets, a very serious charge. Turns out, he was posing with fake money, which is probably even more embarrassing for his public image and persona than the bankruptcy case. The lesson here is quite simply, do not post anything on Facebook that the other side could use against you in court. Just don’t do it!