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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, 10 years as General Counsel CA corps.
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is it possible to respond to a Summons yourself

Customer Question

is it possible to respond to a Summons yourself?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 7 years ago.
HelloCustomerand welcome to JustAnswer.

If you have been sued as an individual in a small claims case you can (and in fact must) respond yourself, as lawyers are not permitted in California small claims cases.

If you have been sued as an individual in any other kind of civil case, then you can respond yourself or by using a lawyer. If you do it yourself, of course, you will still have to comply with all legal requirements (such as filing an answer to the complaint) and making all court appearances. The forms for responding to most civil complaints are available on the California Judicial Council website at:

If your business is being sued and it is an LLC or a corporation, then you cannot personally responde as such organizations can appear in court only through an attorney.

If you tell me what kind of case this is, I can give you more specific information about what forms you will need.

Was your response really due by October 8th or did you mean November 8th? If is was due in October, you may have to deal with a default judgment having already been entered.

Thanks for asking your question here on JustAnswer. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Edited by RunTam38 CA lawyer on 11/4/2009 at 10:46 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I meant November 8th. The Summons is dated October 8th and is to me personally - a civil suit for $19,920 - not small claims. I need to respond to the summons and perhaps do a cross complaint. I have been on line but do not see a response form........??
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 7 years ago.
Hello againCustomerand thanks for the clarification.

A suit for $19,920 would be in Superior Court and does require that you file an answer to the complaint by the due date (unless the opposing party or counsel agrees to an extension of time), so your deadline for filing an answer is Monday, November 9th. The 30 day deadline runs from the date of service, which would actually make the answer deadline in your situation November 7th. However, because that is a Saturday, you have until the next court day to file, which is Monday the 9th.

Which answer form you have to use depends on the nature of the case. If you go to the webpage I linked in my previous response, you can see the available answer forms.

If the complaint is for contract damages, the answer form is PLD-C-010 and you can find it by choosing "All Forms Listed by Number" and scrolling down to that number. If the complaint is for a personal injury or property damage case, the answer form is PLD-PI-003 and is a little further down the list of forms.

The cross-complaint form for personal injury or property damage is form PLD-PI-002. There is no standard form cross-complaint for contract cases, so you would have to adapt the appropriate complaint form, depending on the nature of your cross-complaint.

If you decide to file a cross-complaint, you will also have to serve a summons on the cross-complaint, for which you will need form SUM-110*, which is further down the list of forms.

Edited by RunTam38 CA lawyer on 11/5/2009 at 12:06 AM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The suit is from a tree trimming service - we had a tree fall down onto our guest house and they bid removal to our insurance company at $7,500.00. That is what Farmer's insurance paid us. Then they ended up charging $19,920.00. They have sued us for that amount plus liened our property. Can you tell me which form number I should use to answer with? Plus, which cross-complaint? Thanks. Jobe
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 7 years ago.
Under those circumstances, Jobe, they are suing on the contract, so you would use the form PLD-C-010 to answer. As I mentioned above, there is no standard form for a cross-complaint on a contract, so you may have to adapt one of the other forms to your use. What would be the basis of the cross-complaint?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I think this is "fraud" because the tree company told me that insurance companies will pay any amount and just to bill them for the difference. Like I said, the insurance company paid us $7,200 for the work and they billed us $19,920. There was no signed contract for that price. Can you tell me if there are any inexpensive legal services who could answer the summons?
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 7 years ago.
If there was fraud involved in securing the contract, that would serve as a defense to the complaint but would not provide a basis for filing a cross-complaint.

I am not aware of any low cost legal services which specialize in civil cases. However, you could obtain a low cost consultation with an attorney in your area by contacting the local county bar association lawyer referral service. If you let me know what county you are in, I can give you contact information.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.


Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 7 years ago.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service webpage is at:

The answer has to be filed in the same court in which the complaint was filed, so if that was the Malibu branch of the LA Superior Court, that is where you have to file the answer as well. The address is:

23525 Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265

Thanks again for asking your question here on JustAnswer and good luck getting this situation resolved.

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