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"Do's & Don'ts Upon Service of Legal Papers in New York State"
By Gerald W. Dibble, B.S., J.D., LL. M. (Tax)
(Version 040707a)
(PDF Copy)

These legal tips, and Do's & Don'ts, are for informational purposes only and to assist you before you contact your attorney and are not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. These legal tips are intended to be general guidelines and an outline of issues to be discussed and explored in order to determine if they are applicable to your situation. This information is not intended to create, and use of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship or the rendering of legal advice.

Being served with legal papers can be frightening and stressful but do not worry -- if you are reading this, you are already on the right track.

The service of legal papers means that someone is giving you legal papers that require you to respond to, or be aware of, a legal matter.

Use of Legal Papers. Many legal matters involve the service of legal papers. The service of legal papers is also the way lawsuits are usually started. The service of legal papers could simply be a subpoena, which is a legal paper requiring you to appear at a designated time and place, usually a court or an attorney's office, to answer questions about a legal matter.

What is a Lawsuit? A lawsuit is usually a claim for damages in the form of money claimed to be owed by the defendant to the plaintiff for one or more legal reasons, for example, breach of contract, accident, assault, etc.

Infrequently, a lawsuit could be started to require the defendant to do or not do something, for example, sell the property that the defendant agreed to sell when the defendant signed a contract.

Losing a Lawsuit. If the defendant loses a lawsuit, usually the result is a judgment awarded by the court for a sum of money to be paid to the plaintiff by the defendant.

In the infrequent lawsuit where the defendant is required to do or not do something, the court will order the defendant who loses the lawsuit to do or not do what the plaintiff has requested.

Do Not Ignore Legal Papers. If you received legal papers, you may have been "sued". If you have been sued, and you ignore the papers, a judgment could be filed against you. If a judgment is filed against you, the judgment could ruin your credit and could result in the seizure of your property and your bank accounts.

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