My roommate who was a foreign student who stayed with me and my parents for a while had an auto accident in April 2014. I was told that her insurance company had already paid for the damages and the case was closed. After the case was closed, my roommate went back to her home country. Yesterday, my father received the summons and complaint. I think the other party has started a civil lawsuit against my former roommate. Should I call the lawyer and explain that she does not live with us any longer? Should I send the papers back to the lawyer? Please give me some advice. Thanks.


The California State Law provides that If defendant has not appeared in the action, the statement must be served in the same manner governing service of summons—i.e., service of statement by mail on non-appearing defendant ineffective despite giving defendant actual notice of amount of damages sought.  If defendant has appeared, the statement must be served upon his or her attorney or, if defendant is in pro per, in the manner provided for service of summons or as permitted by law through service by mail, at defendant’s place of residence, etc. Where the court has authorized service of summons and complaint by publication on a defendant who, despite the exercise of reasonable diligence, cannot be located, the statement of damages is properly served simultaneously by publication as well; plaintiff need not obtain a separate court order for publication of the statement we must hold as a matter of constitutional law that the equivalent of a statement of damages be served in the same manner as a summons prior to entry of a default judgment against a defendant served by publication” [Anastos v. Lee (2004)].

As soon as a lawsuit is filed and summons is served, the claim will be assigned to a defense lawyer hired by the insurance carrier. The carrier has an affirmative obligation to employ an attorney to respond to the complaint as part of its duty to defend the insured. Although the claims representative will often participate in further settlement talks and must approve any settlement on behalf of the carrier, negotiations from this point on will often be conducted with the carrier’s lawyer. Also, under certain potential conflict of interest circumstances, the insurer may be required to pay for independent defense counsel to represent its insured Therefore, once suit is filed, several new personalities may be introduced into the negotiations. It would be best to seek personal assistance from a lawyer in order to help you with the personal injury case.

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