In Pennsylvania, a civil case begins when a writ or civil complaint has been filed. Typically, a writ is filed when a party is reaching the end of the statute of limitations and needs more time before filing a formal complaint. Generally speaking, you do not have to worry about a writ. However, once you are served with a formal Complaint, now the time begins to tick and you better be on your toes.
The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure gives you 20 days to respond to a Complaint. You have two ways to respond: Preliminary Objections or by filing an Answer. Preliminary Objections are used to attack the contents of the Complaint. Answering the Complaint is you opportunity to deny the allegations against you.
If you fail to file either “Pleading” or request more time to do so, the person who filed the Complaint may request a Default Judgment. This is his way of telling the court that you obviously don’t care about the Complaint and admit you did something wrong. You must receive a Notice of Default 10 days before a Default Judgment may be entered against you.
Once a Default Judgment is entered against you, you will have to pay the full amount set forth in the Complaint. It is possible to still fight you case, but you will have a difficult time asking the court to open the Judgment.
Best thing to do: As soon as you receive notice of a Civil Case against you, whether it is a Writ or a Complaint, call an attorney. Remember, time is of the essence and your legal rights are ticking away.
I have experience at filing Complaints, challenging Complaints, Answering Complaints, and Opening Default Judgments. Call me at 412-209-0657 and make sure you protect your rights.