What is the process in litigation after an answer to complaint is filed

Asked almost 5 years ago - Tampa, FL

I am being sued and cannot afford an attorney. what should I expect after I file my answer to the allegations?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thomas Michael Bates

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . You first know that courts do not generally give "pro se" litigants such as yourself any leeway when it comes to complying with Rules of Procedure (and Rules of Evidence). You will be held to the same standard as an attorney. I encourage you to go to the Florida Bar website and download a copy of the Rules of Procedure.

    The next step after the defendant answers the complaint is for the parties to begin the "discovery" process. This means the plaintiff may send you interrogatories (written questions) to answer; Request for Production of documents; the taking of your deposition (a sworn statement) and the taking of depositions of non-parties. You have the same rights to discovery as the plaintiff. After discovery is completed (depending on the case discovery could go on for months or years) the parties may bring pretrial motions to obtain favorable rulings on issues such as liability (i.e. whose at fault in the lawsuit); and damages. Sometimes cases are won or lost in these pretrial motions. Assuming the pretrial motions do not resolve the case, at some point the case will be set for trial. Before you go to trial you will have to mediate the case. Most cases settle at mediation. Because you are not an attorney my gut feeling is that the plaintiff will be able to dictate the course of the litigation. I strongly encourage you to at least call some law firms to see if you can get a half-hour free consulation. Good luck.

  2. Andrew Daniel Myers

    Contributor Level 20
    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . The other attorney accurately summarized the procedural aspects that you are up against.

    But, you didn't say what you are being sued for. Is it possible that you have insurance for this event? If so, the insurance company must send an attorney in to defend you.

    Or, you may call your county or state bar association to see if they can refer you to a pro bono or reduced fee attorney. If you qualilfy, then you would be given the names of attorneys who are willing to help out on a reduced fee or no fee basis where appropriate.

    Law suits have many nuances and strategies. Handling litigation is more involved that just filling out forms and mailing them in. As litigation attorneys, it is true that we spend a lot of time shuffling paper, or having our office assistants filling out paperwork. However, it is what papers you file, in what order, and raising what claims and defenses that makes for a good or bad final result.

    So, I encourage you to look around for alternatives for legal representation.

    Good luck with it.

  3. Thomas John Dandar

    Contributor Level 6

    Answered . If the lawsuit involves a contract or statute which provides for the recovery of attorney fees to the prevailing party, you may have a better chance in finding an attorney willing to represent you if you have a good defense or a counterclaim. Your Answer should include your Counterclaim if it arises from the same transaction. Depending on what you admit in your Answer, the Plaintiff may be able to seek a judgment without doing further discovery. If you are in small claims court, mediation and trial can be set in the near future.

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