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What should I do if I am "served" with a legal document?

If the document you receive is a "Statement of Claim", a "Summons", or a "Petition" or "Complaint", you must take quick action if you want to dispute the claim or the action sought and follow the instructions on the Summons.

Do not ignore any of these documents. If you do, the other side may obtain a judgment against you. A judgment entered against you will appear on the public record and may cause a host of other problems such as a derogatory mark on your credit report. You should immediately seek legal advice if you receive any legal documents.

What does "served" or "being served" mean?

The formal process by which a party named in a legal action receives a copy of the legal documents filed to start or to defend a legal action is called "service" or "being served".

Am I required to hire a lawyer to start or defend a lawsuit?

No, you are not required to do so. However, civil litigation can be complex and procedurally intensive. The other side probably has a lawyer managing their case and therefore it is wise for you to level the playing field by hiring your own lawyer.

If I win my case, does the other party have to pay for my legal fees?

It is possible as there are circumstances where this true. Your attorney can advise you if your situation is one where the opposing side may be required to reimburse you for the attorney fees and costs you have expended in litigating your case.