So, you have a legal problem… maybe. But maybe you can handle it yourself. Or maybe it won’t get too serious… or maybe it will go away.
How do you decide when to see an attorney?
Of course, the decision varies from person to person and case to case. But here are some situations that should cause you to seek help right away.
- You have been served with a lawsuit. If you have been served, don’t wait around. You will need to answer that lawsuit by a certain day and time, in the proper way, or you could lose the case. The WHEN and WHERE of how to answer depends…is it in State District Court, County Court, Justice Court (Small claims) , or Federal Court? How did you receive service? In some cases, you can even be served by mail.
- You have received an administrative complaint. Whether it is local, state or federal government, administrative complaints still should not be ignored. (Examples; homeowner’s association, IRS, Workforce Commission, your local city government, a professional regulatory board in your state.)
- You are aware of a serious pending issue that can affect your job or ability to make a living. These are not lawsuits yet but can quickly get out of hand. (Example, you get reputable information that you are being accused of some type of workplace misconduct; you get a letter that you are being unfairly ousted from a professional group that provides you with most of your clients; you find out that your employee is copying your confidential files and client lists and setting up her own business.)
- There is an immediate threat to an individual’s health or safety, or a threat of property destruction. This is something that is on the verge of becoming a full-out emergency. At any time, it could go either way. (Examples: Your neighbor is flooding your property by mishandling his landscaping and water supply; child protective services is investigating your ex-spouse regarding the welfare of your child; your child is visiting your ex-spouse across the state and you find out that she is being left alone without supervision; someone is threatening you with bodily harm).
- You have been asked to sign important documents and you don’t fully understand the documents or the situation. If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it until you do. This is especially important when it relates to long-term contracts, contracts for the purchase or sale of real estate, and any document that asks you to sign away your rights or commit to providing your money or time. (Examples: Termination of your Parental Rights, Settlement for a sum of money in exchange for not pursing a legal claim, contract for purchase or sale of a business, signing of a severance package from your employer.)