How Do I Answer a Complaint in Illinois?

Cook County Court Illinois Attorneys

When someone files a complaint against you in an Illinois court, you will be served with a summons that lets you know that a lawsuit has been brought against you and what you must do to respond.  In the lawsuit, you are called the defendant or respondent. The filer of the complaint is called the plaintiff.

The complaint will tell you what the lawsuit is about, what the plaintiff thinks happened, what the laws are that support the plaintiff’s claims, and when you must appear in court. You may disagree with the charges, but if you are properly served with a summons, you will have to file an appearance and an answer to protect your rights or the plaintiff can win automatically by default.

This is not something you should do on your own.  You need the help of an experienced defense attorney to make sure you answer the complaint and file everything correctly and to defend you in court.

The experienced and seasoned Illinois defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. understand the seriousness of your situation and offer aggressive representation for our clients. When we take on a case, we gather information quickly and look at all viable defense options and legal strategies.  We have been successful helping others in your situation and will do everything possible to vigorously fight for you and defend your rights.

We offer a free initial consultation.  If you have been served with a summons, get help today by calling our offices or contacting us online.

What Are the Steps to Answer a Complaint

1. Appearance
The first step to take in responding to a lawsuit  is usually to file an appearance in court. The appearance is a form that tells the court and the parties involved that you know about and are responding to the lawsuit.

2. Answer

An Answer responds to the plaintiff’s complaint by responding to each reason the plaintiff has listed for suing you. It must be filed by the time stated in the summons or the time the judge gave you if you have appeared in court. The time is determined by the type of case and may be as early as the date for the filing of the appearance.In the answer, you must either:

  • admit or deny each statement in the complaint, or
  • state that you do not have enough knowledge to do so, or
  • agree in part and deny in part by saying which part of the statement you agree with and which part you disagree with.

Any charge that you do not deny is looked upon as if you have admitted it. If you claim insufficient knowledge to admit or deny that any portion of the complaint is true, you must attach an affidavit that says so.

The answer is also the document where you can argue what is called an “affirmative defense” to the charges and list the reasons the plaintiff should not win the case. An example could be that the statute of limitations, which is the time the plaintiff had to file a case, has run out.

In the affirmative defense, you may also raise new issues and legal claims against one or more plaintiffs or other co-defendants. This is called a counterclaim. For example, if someone sues you after a car crash and you think they were at fault, you may file a counterclaim against them that they have to answer. If you file your answer without affirmative defenses, you won’t be able to make them later.

Your attorney will help you decide whether you have affirmative defenses or counterclaims. Your attorney will also determine whether there are grounds to challenge the way the summons and complaint were delivered to you. If there is reason to try to have the complaint dismissed, your attorney will file a motion to do so before filing your answer to the complaint.

After you file your answer and appearance, you must notify the other party by mailing copies to the plaintiff and to the plaintiff’s lawyer.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. For A Free Consultation

If you have been served with a summons in Illinois, you should seek legal assistance to ensure that everything is done correctly so you can achieve the best outcome.

The criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the legal process. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.

We offer a free consultation, so don’t delay. Call or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]