There is so much misinformation floating around about your rights as an American and a resident in Ohio that some people don’t really understand the legal system at all. Many people understand, for example, that they have the right to defend themselves against criminal allegations. However, when it comes to civil lawsuits, the idea of a defense seems foreign to many.
Still, you have the right to defend yourself from any legal claims, even if the consequences will be civil and financial, not criminal. Although the courts do not have to provide you with an attorney as they do in the event of a criminal case, you have the right to retain an attorney on your own behalf. Doing so is often in your best interest, particularly if the amount of money the other party wants to seek from you is quite high.
The first thing you need to do is to start gathering evidence
Many civil suits arise from disagreements about expectations. Sometimes, the agreements that lead to conflicts are written down in a contract. Other times, they occur as a result of someone’s personal life or daily activity. Someone could bring a lawsuit against you for cutting down a tree on their property or for failing to fulfill a professional obligation that you had to them.
If you can prove that you played no role in the destruction of the tree or that you fulfilled the obligations of the contract, that could very well end your legal issues for you. Even if there will be a protracted court process involved, having documentation of the actions you took or the agreement that you made can help you defend against any claims for compensation brought by another person.
Try to keep your emotions and personal relationship out of court
When someone files a civil suit against you, it can be hard not to take it personally. However, if you become emotional and act irrationally or angrily in court, that could change the way that the judge or the jury will view you as an individual.
Remaining calm and keeping things as professional as possible is always a good idea when dealing with legal issues. Do your best to present yourself as someone rational and professional, rather than someone who feels emotional or defensive.
Having an attorney speak on your behalf can help with this, as many people struggle to remain calm in high-stress situations. Your lawyer will have experience talking about complicated and difficult things in a public setting and will not be as emotionally invested in the allegations as you are.
The more you know about the laws that apply, the better
Many legal arguments spring up from confusion on the part of the people involved regarding their legal rights or obligations. Given that many statutes vary from state to state or even among different municipalities, it is common for misinformation and confusion to complicate civil lawsuits.
If you take the time to educate yourself about the laws that specifically impact your case, you will have a better understanding of what kind of evidence will help defend you and how the courts will probably approach your case.
An attorney who has experience in the defense of individuals facing civil suits can help educate you about the laws that specifically apply to your situation and your rights as someone defending against a lawsuit. Getting advice from someone with an education and experience in the area is typically better than relying on questionable internet sources or the opinions of your friends and family.