We talk a lot about how we can help if you have suffered injuries and financial losses as a result of an accident that wasn’t your fault. But we receive a significant amount of enquiries from people who have received court documents through the post.
Receiving court documents through the post can be worrying so here’s a short guide on what to do if a claim has been commenced and papers have been served directly on you.
- Easier said than done - but don’t panic!
- As the defendant, (i.e. the person in receipt of the court documents) you are entitled to a period of 14 days from the date of service to acknowledge the papers. Thereafter, you are entitled to a period of 14 days to file a defence. (Total 28 days.)
- If you fail to respond or fail to agree on an extension of time to respond, the claimant can apply for judgment through the court. This means that the claim could be ruled against you without the opportunity to defend yourself. To avoid this course of action you must deal with the papers promptly.
- Regardless of whether you accept or deny fault for the accident, you should send the original paperwork to your insurance company - but make sure you take copies. (You will need to check who you were insured with at the time of the accident.)
- Your insurance company will likely appoint solicitors to take over the conduct of the case. At this point, you can be assured that they will deal with the proceedings on your behalf.
- No two cases are the same and if you intend to dispute the claim, then you may find that your insurance company will liaise with you during the proceedings.
- If the matter proceeds to a contested hearing, then you may be required to attend court depending on the nature of the dispute.
It’s not unusual to receive court papers several years after an incident has occurred. There could be a number of reasons why but most probably it’s because the claimant has needed time to prepare their case or they did not commence a claim straight away - there is a statutory three-year limitation period in respect of personal injury claims and six years in respect of money claims.