Next Step After Being Served With Summons For Car Accident

Next Steps After Being Served with a Summons for a Car Accident

Being served with a summons for a car accident can be a stressful and confusing experience. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process and protect your rights:

1. Understand the Summons

Definition: A summons is a legal document that notifies you of a lawsuit being filed against you. It includes information about the plaintiff (person suing you), the court, the case number, and the date and time of your required court appearance.

Types: There are two main types of summons:

  • Complaint Summons: This summons includes a copy of the complaint, which outlines the plaintiff’s allegations against you.
  • Notice of Summons: This summons does not include a copy of the complaint. You must request it from the plaintiff’s attorney.

2. Respond to the Summons

Process: You have a limited amount of time (typically 20-30 days) to respond to the summons. You can respond by:

  • Filing an Answer: This is a written document that addresses the plaintiff’s allegations and sets forth your defenses.
  • Filing a Motion to Dismiss: This is a request to the court to dismiss the case for legal reasons.

3. Gather Evidence and Witnesses

Importance: Gathering evidence and identifying witnesses is crucial for building a strong defense. This may include:

  • Police report
  • Medical records
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Witness statements

4. Consider Hiring an Attorney

Advantages: An experienced attorney can:

  • Protect your rights: Ensure that your interests are represented and that you are not taken advantage of.
  • Negotiate a settlement: Help you reach a fair agreement with the plaintiff without going to trial.
  • Represent you in court: Advocate for you and present your case effectively.

5. Prepare for Court

Process: If a settlement cannot be reached, you will need to prepare for court. This involves:

  • Organizing your evidence
  • Rehearsing your testimony
  • Dressing professionally

Table: Summons vs. Complaint

Feature Summons Complaint
Purpose Notifies you of a lawsuit Outlines the plaintiff’s allegations
Content Case number, court, date Plaintiff’s claims, legal basis
Response Time 20-30 days Varies by jurisdiction
Required Response Answer or Motion to Dismiss Not required


Being served with a summons for a car accident can be a daunting experience, but it’s important to remember that you have rights and options. By understanding the process, gathering evidence, and considering hiring an attorney, you can protect yourself and navigate the legal system effectively.


1. What happens if I don’t respond to the summons?

Failure to respond to the summons within the specified time frame can result in a default judgment against you. This means the plaintiff will automatically win the case without you having the opportunity to present your defense.

2. How long does a car accident lawsuit typically take?

The duration of a car accident lawsuit varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years.

3. What are the potential consequences of losing a car accident lawsuit?

Losing a car accident lawsuit can result in financial liability, including compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries, property damage, and legal fees. In some cases, you may also face criminal charges.

Closing Statement

Navigating a car accident lawsuit can be challenging, but it’s crucial to approach the process with knowledge and preparation. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can protect your rights and work towards a favorable outcome.


This article provides general information and should not be considered legal advice. It is recommended to consult with an experienced attorney for specific guidance on your case.