I just got served. The citation says I have to file an answer with the clerk by the “Monday next following the expiration of ten/twenty days,” or else a default judgment may be entered against me. How do I calculate my answer date?
The answer date for a party sued in a civil case in Texas always falls on a Monday, unless that Monday is a legal holiday, in which case your answer date falls on the next non-holiday business day. To calculate your answer date, start counting the days on the first day after you got served. For example, if you are served on a Friday, then Saturday would be day 1. Count out 20 days in a like manner. Your answer date will fall on the first Monday occurring after the 20th day you were served. If the 20th day falls on a Monday, your answer date would be the following Monday. Of course, the safest way to ensure you do not lose your case by default is to file a written answer immediately upon getting served, or else contact your attorney to take care of it for you.
Should I hire an attorney when dealing with a small claims court case?
Having superior legal representation makes all the difference and greatly improves the likelihood of a positive outcome in any case. However, some relatively small controversies may not justify the cost of legal representation. Texas small claims courts are designed to address those cases that involve relatively small amounts in controversy. They are more informal than the higher trial courts and have simplified rules of procedure and evidence. But you should be careful when deciding to represent yourself in any case. As your own advocate, you are held to the same standard as licensed attorneys with respect to knowledge of the law and rules of court, including rules of procedure and evidence. If the other party is represented by counsel, you will be at a significant disadvantage representing yourself.