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3 STEPS YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY TAKE IF YOU ARE SERVED WITH A SUMMONS.

In Idaho, a party begins a lawsuit by preparing and filing a complaint with the Clerk of the District Court. Once the complaint is filed, the Clerk will also issue a summons which is supposed to be served upon the defendant along with a copy of the complaint.

The purpose of the summons is to notify the defendant that the defendant has 20 days from the date of service in which to file either an answer to the complaint. If the defendant fails to file either an answer to the complaint within 20 days following the date of service, the plaintiff may obtain an entry of a default against the defendant along with a default judgment.

Once service of process has been accomplished upon the defendant of the summons and complaint, there are 3 tasks that the defendant should take in order to protect the defendant’s legal rights.

1. Immediately Contact Your Insurance Company Upon Receipt of a Summons and Complaint.

The first task at hand for you to do is to immediately notify your insurance company that you have received a copy of the complaint and summons. Pick up the phone and give them your insurance agent a call. Your agent will give you instructions as to where you should forward copies of your summons and complaint to your insurance carrier.

2. Forward Copies of the Summons and Complaint to Your Insurance Company.

After you talk to your insurance company, you should immediately send your insurance company a copy of the Summons and Complaint by way of fax or email. For good measure you should also send a copy of the Summons and Complaint to your insurance company by certified mail, return receipt requested, to that you have a record that you notified your insurance company in writing that you had been served with process of the Summons and Complaint and that you have complied with the terms of the policy by forwarding copies of the Summons and Complaint to your insurance carrier in a timely manner.

In Idaho, a policyholder has an obligation to notify the insured’s insurance carrier once the insured has been served with process of a summons and complaint. Failure to do so could result in the insurance company being able to cancel your coverage and result in the insurance company not having to indemnify you for any judgment that may be imposed against you in the lawsuit.

3. Consult with an Attorney!

To insure that your interests are protected, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced trial attorney to help advise you regarding what options you have regarding the lawsuit that was filed against you.

In Idaho, the insured (that’s the person who is named in the insurance policy as the person who is covered under the insurance policy) has a duty to cooperate with the insurance company. That duty includes notifying the insurance carrier as soon as possible to let the insurance company know that the insured has been sued and received a copy of the Summons and Complaint. Failure to immediately notify your insurance company that you have been served with a summons and complaint could limit the insurance company’s obligation as to its duty to defend or payoff any judgment that may be imposed against you up to your policy limit.

Consulting with your own attorney may also help you preserve any claim you may have against your insurance company for bad faith and unfair claims settlement practices if the insurance company fails to discharge its duty to defend you in the lawsuit or indemnify you up to the amount of the policy limit set forth in your insurance contract should a judgment be entered against you.

Another reason for consulting with your own attorney after you have been served with process of a summons and complaint is to insure that your insurance company is engaging in good faith on your behalf under the terms of your contact.

This includes protecting you from a judgment in excess of your policy limits if given the opportunity to do so. Where insurance companies are given an opportunity to settle a claim against their insured for policy limits but unilaterally refuse to do so, a judgment in excess of the insured’s policy may result.. If that occurs, you as the defendant may be entitled to pursue a claim against your insurance company for bad faith and unfair claims settlement practices. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult with your own attorney to insure that your insurance company is discharging all of its responsibilities due you under the terms of your insurance contract to insure that your insurance company is acting in good faith on your behalf and in the event it doesn’t then to pursue your claim for damages arising from the insurance company’s breach of contract and/or bad faith.

Boise Trial Attorney Alan Morton has over 33 years of experience in helping people pursue their legal rights and remedies. You can reach Mr. Morton at 208.344.5555, toll free at 800.716.8021 or by completing an online contact formMr. Morton is available to meet with you at his office or your home, work, school, hospital or any other mutually convenient location to help you better understand your legal rights and remedies.


Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer