This is a question we hear all the time. And here’s the short answer: “Nothing.”
You get served with or receive a copy of a lawsuit. Maybe it’s a small amount. Or maybe you think they have the wrong party because you’ve read through the complaint and none of it sounds familiar. Or maybe you think, “well, they can’t get blood from a turnip so who cares if they get a judgment aginst me?!” Or here’s a classic line we hear all the time: “But I didn’t do anything wrong, so there’s no way a judge will let them get a judgment against me. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and (in case you didn’t know where I’m going with this)....wrong!
The worst thing you can possibly do is: Nothing. Small judgments have a way of turning into big judgments through interest, attorneys’ fees, costs, or perhaps additional damages added later. Even that $500.00 judgment could come back to haunt you years later as a judgment for thousands of dollars. That complaint you chose to ignore also might have asked for injunctive relief, which can turn into contempt proceedings that include the possibility of fines or even jail time!
Oh, and if you’re banking on the judge acting as the gatekeeper to make sure the claims against you are valid, you’re money is better spent buying a powerball ticket. Judges do not represent you. Without someone there to defend your interests, the odds are very good that you will lose. In a one-horse race, even a lame pony finishes first.
If you do nothing in response to a lawsuit, you generally lose the right to challenge the allegations against you. Yes, as with all things, there are exceptions. But if you have been served with the lawsuit and made the conscious decision not to respond, it will definitely be harder to try to reopen the case months or even years later.
We get it. Lawyers cost money and lawsuits can be expensive. But the cost of doing nothing could cost you a lot more in the long run! At a minimum, go talk to a lawyer and get a better understanding of your rights, options, and responsibilities.