Summons Definition in Pennsylvania
A summons is the legal notice that informs a defendant they face a civil lawsuit based on someone else’s injuries or damages. It tells them everything they need to know about the court that will hear the case. It also includes information about when they must respond by appearing in court or having their attorney file a response.
Many people feel intimidated when they receive a summons, since it demands they appear before a judge at a specific date and time to answer for the allegations the plaintiff made. However, there is no reason to panic. Instead, enlist the help of a personal injury attorney if you have not already.
At Berger and Green, our attorneys will ensure you understand your legal rights and options. Call 412-661-1400 to set up a free meeting.
What Is the Purpose of a Summons?
Writing and serving a summons is a formal legal process that ensures the defendant has the opportunity to hire an attorney, appear in court, and defend themselves against the complaint filed against them. While it may seem demanding, a summons is really only informational and offers an invitation to attend the hearing.
However, declining this invitation is not a good idea. Neither is going without an attorney. If you do not appear in court, the judge will likely enter a default judgement against you. This could include ordering you to pay thousands of dollars. You must follow the judge’s orders even if you ignore the summons and do not go to court.
If you receive a summons and want to win the case, you need to show up to court with an attorney on your side. You can bet the plaintiff will have one and will have a strong case against you.
How Do I Serve a Summons?
If you filed a lawsuit and need to serve a summons on the defendant, there are strict rules you need to follow. We can handle this for you if we are representing you. Serving the summons properly is key to filing your case in civil court.
After we file a lawsuit on your behalf, the next step is serving the defendant with a summons. This is “service of process.” It requires an approved adult who is either a member of the Sheriff’s department or a private process server. In rare cases, we may be able to serve someone by Certified Mail. This is not common, though. You cannot serve a defendant yourself in a Pennsylvania civil case.
Once each defendant receives a summons, we file additional documents showing we took this step. Only then can we proceed with our case.
What Should I Do If I Receive a Summons in Pittsburgh?
If you receive a summons—or if you are considering filing a Pittsburgh personal injury lawsuit—you need to give us a call as soon as possible. At Berger and Green, we can help you understand the litigation process and ensure your rights remain protected throughout. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to schedule a time to discuss your case with one of our personal injury lawyers.