In this difficult economic time, some types of lawsuits are on the rise. If you have not been formally “served" with a “Complaint" and “Summons" by an official process server, then you most likely do not have to do anything yet. Once you have been “served," the clock starts ticking. The following steps will provide you with the information you need to take some stress off and make a good decision:

1) If in Maricopa County, to verify if a Arizona State lawsuit has been filed against you or your business, you can type in your name on the Maricopa County Superior Court Docket for lawsuits exceeding $10,000. For lawsuits of $10,000 or less, you can type in your name on the Maricopa County Justice Court Docket.

2) Once you have been “served" with a lawsuit in an Arizona State Court, you will have 20 calendar days to file an “Answer" or other applicable motion with the Clerk of the Court, and you will have to pay a court fee to do so. If you do not file anything in the lawsuit within the 20 calendar days after service, the Plaintiff in the lawsuit can file an “Application for Entry of Default," which is basically a request that the judge grant a Judgment in the amount requested by Plaintiff solely because the Defendant did not “appear" in the lawsuit. Once the “Application for Entry of Default" has been filed, you will have 10 business days (excluding weekends and certain holidays) to file something in the case and pay the court fee. If the 10 business days expire and you have not “appeared" in the lawsuit, the judge may enter a “default judgment" against you for the amount requested by the Plaintiff. With this judgment, the Plaintiff can begin legal collection measures against the named Defendants. (Note that United States Federal Court lawsuits have different rules and timeframes.)

3) If you file an “Answer" or other applicable motion, then you are involved in a pending lawsuit. Certain disclosures to the other side will be required within 40 days, and the “discovery" period will start where each party can request information and documents from the other.

Litigation procedures and strategies are very complicated. If your lawsuit is for an amount of money that you cannot afford to lose, you should consult with an attorney any of your deadlines expire.