What can we do if my mother received a summons to response in 20 days because she is wrongfully being sued for a car accident that never happened?

My mother receive a summon letter stating that she is being sue for a accident that she was not involved in. She has no clue who her co-defendants are. We talked to the attorney of the plaintiff. He indicated that he thinks they got the wrong person, but hasn’t eliminated her as a possibly. What should she do at this point? should she still write a letter stating that she is not involve and that they have the wrong person to the court. Also, should the plaintiff’s attorney write a letter to my mother stating they are sorry she received a summons letter and that she is no longer involve with the case.

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Accident Law, Washington


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unless the attorney files a request for dismissal with the court, dismissing your mother as a defendant in the lawsuit, your mother will still be a defendant in the lawsuit.  Without that dismissal, your mother will need to file an answer to the complaint (complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons) within 20 days from the date she was served with the summons and complaint. 

An answer to the complaint denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the law library, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification which your mother should sign under penalty of perjury attesting to the veracity of her statements in the answer. File the answer to the complaint and verification with an attached proof of service.  The proof of service verifies the date of mailing to the opposing attorney.  A court form proof of service can be used or your mother can write her own proof of service.  If she writes her own proof of service, it just says that the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to __________ (name and address of opposing attorney) on _________ (date).   The proof of service is signed and dated at the bottom.  The date it is signed should be the same as the date of mailing and the same date it is filed with the court.  If the answer to the complaint is not filed within the 20 day deadline stated in the summons, your mother will lose by default.  If that happens and a default judgment is entered, your mother will need to file with the court a motion to set aside the default. 

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