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If I receive a certified letter from a law firm, am I legally served? Do I have to answer?

Pittsburgh, PA |

Received a certified letter from a law firm. I first received an email about a month ago. Do I have to now respond to the letter?

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Attorney answers 1


Law Offices Michael J. Brooks, Esquire
(215) 230-3761 “Perspective from the Legal Vantage Point”

To be properly served, you would receive a Complaint with a Notice to Plead, instructing you to file a responsive pleading with the Court. In Pennsylvania the Complaint is usually served by the Sheriff’s Office (In Philadelphia County for as an exception, private process servers may serve complaints). If the law firm attempted Sheriff’s service and the Sheriff was unable to serve you, the law firm on behalf of its client could have filed a motion with the court allowing for service by certified mail. However, such service would contain a complaint with a notice to plead, not simply a letter. Note: Besides filing a complaint the opposing side could have filed a Summons. A summons puts you on notice that a complaint is to be filed, and a summons preserves the statute of limitations on filing a claim. If you were served with a Summons, you are not required to answer; however, you may want to file a Praecipe to File Complaint, forcing the opposing side to timely file a Complaint or have the matter dismissed. Additionally, if you were served with a summons, the Complaint then only needs to be sent by mail. It is recommended you seek a consultation with legal counsel to review the documents/letter you received. Further Note: With small claims court you may be served by certified mail, there would be a notice to respond to the court, and it would come from the small claims court, not a law firm.

Disclaimer: Please note you should not rely upon the information provided herein as legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only. Legal advice can only come from a qualified attorney after having had an opportunity to become familiar with all of the fact specific circumstances of a particular legal matter, and then to apply or research the relevant law.