Go speak with an attorney. If it was for a car accident, insurance may pay for your lawyer. Even if it doesn't, you should speak with an attorney about your case and your options. Most offer free consultation. Don't just try to write a response by yourself. An attorney can at least point you in the right direction, though ideally you would have one represent you through the entire matter. Good luck.
Michel & Associates, PC
All my comments here are intended for general legal purposes. None of my comments here establish an attorney-client relationship with anyone. None of my comments should be relied on in taking legal action without first consulting an attorney.
If you have the possibility of insurance coverage, it is imperative that you tender the defense of the unlimited jurisdiction lawsuit to your insurance carrier immediately. Under California law, the insurance company must either defend and indemnify you, or tell you in writing why there is no insurance coverage or that the carrier is defending you under a reservation of rights.
In the event there is no insurance coverage AND you absolutely cannot afford an attorney to defend you, you can represent yourself "in pro per". You would file either an Answer or a General Denial, and pay the first appearance filing fee.
The form for the Answer is (Judicial Council Form PLD-C-010):
The form for the General Denial is (Judicial Council Form PLD-050):
If you cannot afford the first appearance filing fee, you may apply for a fee waiver. See:
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.
My colleagues are correct that you should tender this matter to your auto insurance company immediately. Take a copy to your insurance agent.
If you end up having to do this yourself, keep in mind that you must answer within 30 days of being served. Go to the closest law library and the librarian can show you books and other materials to help you answer the complaint.
The bottom line is, no, you don't tell your side of the story. You need to answer the complaint by admitting or denying (usually a general denial to all claims) and assert your affirmative defenses.
I am licensed only in California and this response is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be based on the exact facts of the particular situation, and by necessity this forum is not appropriate for discussion of specific, exact facts. Contact a lawyer for more specific advice. My answer to your question on AVVO does not create an attorney-client relationship.
You are severely disadvantaged without an attorney. Just because the law allows people to represent themselves in court does not mean it's a good idea. People are allowed to treat their own upset stomachs, but in serious cases, they have to go to a doctor.
Mr. Chen has provided good information if you absolutely must represent yourself. Another thing to do is go to your county law library and ask the reference librarian to direct you to form books for personal injury law.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***