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How to Respond to a Lawsuit Without an Attorney

by | Jul 26, 2022 | Defendant | 0 comments

If you’re sued for money, don’t ignore it. If you don’t respond, they can still find a way to make you pay. Ignoring it leads to even more debt and legal actions, like taking money from your paychecks, freezing bank accounts, and blocking credit cards. This guide will show you how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney.

Considering Settlement in a Lawsuit

When facing a lawsuit as a defendant, settling the case might be a wise option to explore. Settling involves reaching an agreement with the Plaintiff that both parties can accept, eliminating the need to go to court.

Assessing Your Decision

Before deciding on a settlement, it’s important to consider the potential outcomes if the case goes to court. Consider your confidence level in your chances of winning. Remember that going to court might require time off work and preparation for presenting your case to the judge. Settling allows you to avoid the time and effort required for a court appearance.

How to Respond to a Lawsuit Without an Attorney

Crafting Your Settlement Offer

Document your settlement offer in writing when you’re ready to present it. Your letter should outline specific terms, such as:

  • Paying a fixed amount in a lump sum.
  • Committing to monthly payments over a defined period.
  • Offering an exchange of value for the owed amount.

Essential Details for Your Offer Letter

Case details: Mention the parties’ names and the court-assigned case number.

Agreement specifics: Outline the payment schedule with exact dollar amounts. For example: “Defendant agrees to pay $200 monthly in two installments…”

 Enforcement plan: Consider specifying the consequences of missed payments. For instance, “Failure to make timely payments will result in the balance becoming due with 10% interest.”

Completing and Sending Your Offer

Leave a space for the plaintiff’s signature at the end of your offer if they agree to the terms. Date and sign the offer before to the Plaintiff. You can find the Plaintiff’s address in the court forms served to you.

Utilizing JusticeDirect for Effortless Settlement Letters

If you want to streamline the process of creating a settlement offer letter, consider leveraging tools like JusticeDirect. This platform provides a user-friendly interface that guides you through creating a well-structured and professionally written settlement offer letter. You can save valuable time and effort that would otherwise be spent researching legal language and formatting. So, if you’re seeking an efficient and effective way to draft a custom settlement letter without an attorney, JusticeDirect can be a valuable tool in your legal toolkit.

Plaintiff Does Not Respond

After sending your offer, wait for the Plaintiff’s response. However, sending an offer letter does not delay your already scheduled hearing.  It is best to continue preparing for court during this waiting period.  You will still be ready for court if the Plaintiff does not respond.  

Remember that the Plaintiff cannot typically use your settlement offer against you in court. Settlement offers are often considered inadmissible evidence and won’t influence the judge’s decisions.

Plaintiff Accepts Your Offer*

If the Plaintiff accepts your settlement offer, they will need to ask the court to withdraw their complaint and the court will need to notify you that the hearing has been canceled.   If these things do not happen, you should assume your hearing is still taking place on the originally scheduled date and time.

By the Plaintiff accepting your offer, you have entered into a new agreement with the plaintiff with the payment terms specified in the settlement offer.  You must now comply with the terms of the offer in your settlement letter.  

Dismissal Procedures in California

In California, the Plaintiff initiates the case dismissal process.  They complete and file two forms: Request for Dismissal (CIV-110) and Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service (CIV-120). If you’re wondering how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney, it’s important to understand the dismissal procedures. The CIV-110 form will ask the Plaintiff if they want to dismiss the case with prejudice or without prejudice.

  • With Prejudice: dismissed with prejudice means it cannot be filed again. This is a good option when the plaintiff has received payment in full.
  • Without Prejudice: dismissed without prejudice means it can be refiled in court if there is a problem. For example, maybe a plaintiff enters into a payment plan with a defendant, so they decide to dismiss the case. If the defendant defaults on his or her payment plan, the plaintiff can return to court.

Once the forms are completed, they are filed at the courthouse, and the original case will be dismissed.


Responding to a lawsuit without an attorney can feel overwhelming. By considering these steps and aspects of settling a lawsuit, you can decide whether a settlement is the right choice for your situation. Remember to consult legal professionals with specific questions or concerns about your case. When facing a lawsuit as a defendant, you may want to consider settling the case. Settling means you and the Plaintiff arrive at a resolution you can both live with, so going to court is no longer necessary.



The quest for justice is never easy, particularly when it comes to getting your money back. However, thanks to advances in technology, it has become easier. Quest for Justice’s first app, JusticeDirect, is the only app of its kind designed to support people without lawyers to resolve their disputes and get their money back, both in and out of court. The first step to getting money back is through a letter demanding payment from the other party JusticeDirect offers customizable demand letters for free. If the letter demanding payment does not work, then the next step is taking them to court. JusticeDirect* will guide users every step of the way through the small claims court process by helping them:


  1. Understand the legal process;
  2. Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;
  3. Generate small claims court forms; and,
  4. Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.
*Currently, JusticeDirect can only help litigants sue in California’s small claims court.

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