How do I answer a lawsuit? What do I do when I receive a Summons & Complaint?
Basics to Answering a Lawsuit – What the law ASKS of you…
ANSWER - Fill out an Answer or an Answer for Consumer Credit Transaction form; sign in front of a notary and file the paperwork at the County Clerk's office.
- Obtain two copies – one for yourself, one to serve on the defendant(s).
SERVICE by SOMEONE else - Take a copy of the filed Answer form, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and write the address of the defendant(s) or the attorney (if they have one).
- Give it to someone 18 years or older (& lives in NYS) to mail it; YOU cannot serve papers.
- That person then fills out an Affidavit of Service (and signs in front of a notary) to swear that they sent the envelope on your behalf.
KEEP the AFFIDAVIT - The Affidavit of Service is only for the court; it does NOT get served.
SUBMIT the AFFIDAVIT - You can then bring the original to the County Clerk’s office, or send to the Clerk's office by postal mail, within a reasonable amount of time. This will notify the court when you answered and served your paperwork.
Please note that you generally need to file an answer within 20-30 days of receiving the Summons & Complaint, depending how you were served. If you are late in responding on time, then you may need to inform the court why -- speak with a local Help Center to determine the process if you are late.