Getting sued changes a lot of things. You suddenly have to be prepared to handle a number of other time draining commitments and keep track of your rights and your goals. As you prepare for the litigation, you need to make sure that you are properly organized. Even if you have an attorney, you cannot avoid this step.
The most basic form of organization is having a good filing system. You will need this because of all the paperwork you will receive. Most court systems have not transitioned to paperless or electronic filing and notification systems, and many will not accept copies unless they have the appropriate sealings and certifications from the clerk’s office.
Organize By Case and Then Chronologically
While there are many different filing systems out there, the best one for keeping track of litigation matters is one that organizes documents first by case and then by chronological order. As you can see from sites like LegalZoom, you will receive a significant amount of paperwork. Most of these documents will have requirements for action and deadlines. The actual deadline depends on the date that the document was certified rather than the date that you received it. Since you will need to refer back to this, file everything in the order of the certification. Evidence based documents such as insurance payments and the like should be filed in order of billing date rather then receipt as well.
Keep Everything Coordinated with Your Calendar
All of the documents that you receive in the mail need to be coordinated with your calendar when you file them. This way you know when you have documents due and when you have other obligations. Technically, your lawyer should be handling this, but you do not want to risk your lawyer making a mistake or forgetting something. For this, you may want to use an electronic calendar so that you can set reminders for yourself.
Keep Your Lawyer’s Billing Information and Charges Separate
You may be tempted to file all of the financial charges and bills from your attorney in the same file as your general case. Don’t do this. In most civil cases, you will not be able to collect lawyer fees from the other side if you succeed in your claim. Additionally, you need to be able to separate out that information if you need to dispute a charge at a later date.
Do Not Throw Anything Away
Remember that you must not throw any of the court paperwork away unless your lawyer confirms that it is disposable. While the court should have copies of most of the communications between you and the court, the general consensus in most states is that you are responsible for having your own copies. If you lose them, you will be required to pay certain fees to get copies. These fees can be as much as a dollar per page with the average civil case racking up more than 500 pages of paperwork throughout the course of the litigation.