Every lawsuit starts with a summons. Without a summons, a lawsuit cannot take place. In basic terms, a summons is an official notice to one party that you are suing them. All parties involved have a right to defend themselves. A summons allows the ability to do so and respond to the lawsuit appropriately.
The process of delivering a summons is known as “serving” it. Typically the summons must be received directly by the person in question or an appropriate individual at a company. It is put in their hand, not simply sent through the mail. If the person cannot be found or contacted, it is possible to serve a summons by public notice in the newspaper.
What Purpose Do Summons Serve?
Summons are the formal notification to a person or company that someone else is suing them. A lawsuit cannot start without a summons because the person has to know about the lawsuit to defend themselves. Serving a summons is required by law in Georgia. If your summons fails to reach the party you’re suing; there’s no obligation for that party to oblige your lawsuit in court.
Is a Summons the Same as a Subpoena?
While sometimes used interchangeably, no, a subpoena is not the same as a summons. They are two entirely separate things. A summons is simply a notice that a party receives. A subpoena is an actual court order that compels a person to give evidence, a deposition, or show up to court. The only similarity the two have is that they both need to get served.
How Do I Serve a Summons to Someone?
The summons is a document filed at the beginning of the lawsuit process, along with your complaint. The complaint is a formal description of the injury or loss you suffered and how the other party is responsible, along with what you’re asking for as compensation. Your lawyer will file this complaint with the clerk of court and also file a summons form. The summons will then get served to the defendant.
In Georgia, you cannot send the summons directly to the other party. Instead, it must get filed with the court, which will then entrust the Sheriff or a US Marshall to serve the summons.
What Happens When Someone Receives a Summons?
The summons will include a copy of the complaint and tell them how long they have to respond. In Georgia, this is usually 30 days. If they do not respond at this time, the court may find the case in your favor.
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