Have you received notice of a complaint filed against you for personal injury? In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff files the complaint which outlines their specific accusations as to why the defendant is liable for their injuries or damage. How you respond is vitally important. And if you don't already have a personal injury attorney on your team, now is the time to get one.

Why? Here are a few reasons not to attempt the answer on your own. 

1. The Answer Is in Legal Form.

While it sounds like a fairly simple thing to write — just an answer — this is a key legal document. It must usually be made with legal wording and in legal formats. Most laypersons don't know enough about the process or the law to fully satisfy these requirements. 

2. Assumptions Will Be Made.

One key element of a good answer is to address all the parts of the complaint. You generally deny or admit liability for specific accusations made by the other side. However, failure to address any accusations correctly could lead to the court assuming them to be true. This can damage your defense later on. 

3. It Sets Up Your Case.

In the complaint, you can now see the first elements of your opponent's case. So you have the opportunity to start setting up your defense appropriately. But what is your case? How strong is it? Are your arguments the right moves? Without an attorney involved at this stage, you may be building an ineffective or incorrect case. 

4. There Is a Deadline.

Each jurisdiction defines the rules for submitting an answer, including how long you have to do so. In many cases, this deadline is somewhat short—perhaps a month or less—which doesn't give you a lot of time to find out all the legal things you need to know in order to answer to your best advantage. 

5. New Matters Must Come Up Now.

Does your defense rely on some element that is not addressed within the complaint? For instance, if the plaintiff sues you after slipping on an icy sidewalk, you might argue that the city's snowplows covered the sidewalk after you shoveled it. This could transfer liability. But if you don't bring up this issue in the answer, you may not be able to use it later. 

Where to Start

Clearly, how you answer the complaint is a lynchpin for your entire defense. Make sure you do it right by meeting with a personal injury attorney in your state today.  

For more info, contact a local firm like Siben & Siben LLP.