Answering A Lawsuit in New York

In New York, a civil lawsuit is generally initiated by purchasing an Index Number, serving the Summons & Complaint, and then filing the Affidavit of Service with the Court. From the date service is effectuated, the Defendant has a limited amount of time to respond before the Plaintiff could move for entry of a Default Judgment.

If the lawsuit documents were delivered by way of personal service, the Defendant would have 20-days to respond. However, if the papers were delivered via substitute service, the time to respond is within 30-days. An example of subsitute service is "Nail and Mail", whereby the process server would affix a copy to the entrance of Defendants residence and send an additional copy by Mail.

If you are considering representing yourself, you should visit the Clerk of the Court in which you were sued. They will provide you with a template for a pro-se Answer, which can be filed with the Clerk upon completion of the pleading. In many courts, once the Answer is filed pro-se, the case will be scheduled on the courts docket for self-represented litigants (SRL Calendar). The court will notify Defendant by mail of the scheduled court date. It is very important to attend every required appearance.

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