What happens if you're sued
This is the typical process for what happens if you're sued in California. You may not need to take every step. For example, many people work out an agreement (settle) with the other side and never end up going to trial. Or, if you don't respond to the lawsuit, the judge can make a final decision (a judgment), likely against you, without a trial or our participation.
Select any phase shown below to learn more and get step-by-step instructions for your situation.
1. Decide what to do if you're sued
You receive court papers that say you're being sued. Find out your options and how long you have to respond.
2. Respond and defend yourself
If you decide to respond, you file a response in court.
3. Prepare your case
This is usually the longest part of the process. You prepare your case by gathering evidence (called discovery). You and the other side can try to reach an agreement.
4. Prepare for your trial
Once you're done with discovery you will need to start to prepare for trial. Even now, you may end up reaching an agreement.
5. Go to your trial
If the case isn't settled, you'll go to trial. The judge or jury will decide who wins.
6. Pay or collect money
If the judge or jury decided one side owes the other money, the money needs to be paid.