Outline of a Lawsuit – Part 10 – After serving Complaint, the defendant serves an “Answer”

Once the Summons and Complaint have been served (or delivered) properly, the defendant has 20 days (or 30 if a corporation) to serve an “Answer” to the Summons and Complaint.  Generally speaking, the plaintiff will often offer more time to Answer the Complaint as a matter of courtesy.  Often the plaintiff’s attorney will stipulate (or agree) to allow the defendant to Answer in 45 days.

The “Answer” is a legal document that responds to the allegations that are contained in the Summons and Complaint.  The allegations of “residence” of the defendants and other information that are clearly true are “admitted” to in the Answer. The allegations as to the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries are generally “denied.”

In addition to serving an “Answer,’ the defendants usually enclose requests for further information (in what is commonly referred to as “Discovery.”)  Discovery requests include “Demands” for copies of medical records related the the subject accident, accident reports, photographs, etc.  These “demands” are made in the form of a “Notice of Discovery and Inspection.”

The defendants will also generally serve a “Notice of Examination Before Trial” (or Notice of “EBT”).  This notice will alert the parties that the defendants wish to take the sworn testimony of the plaintiff and include a time, date, and location.  Most often this notice is a formality and the actual dates to do so are set by the Court.  (We will discuss this further in the blog about “Preliminary Conference”).

Now the plaintiff makes the next move.  How to respond to defendants discovery requests will be discussed in the next blog.