This post is the first in a seven-part series written to explain the core components of filing an answer in Texas state court. This article will discuss the basic elements of an answer. Other topics in this series are listed below.
Post 1: The Basics of Drafting an Answer
Post 2: Dilatory Pleas
Post 3: Special Exceptions
Post 4: The General Denial
Post 5: Verified Denials
Post 6: Affirmative Defenses
Post 7: Counterclaims, Cross Claims, and Third-Party Claims
Drafting an answer correctly lays important groundwork for the defendant in a lawsuit. Most importantly, the filing of an answer prevents the plaintiff from taking a default judgement against the defendant. Answers are generally due around 20 days after a defendant is served in Texas.
In Texas, defendants normally use a general denial that serves as a blanket denial of all the plaintiff’s allegations. However, certain situations often require a defendant to plead other items specific to the case. While the exact information required to answer a lawsuit is minimal (Tex. R. Civ. P. 45 (b) and 47), the answer should include a complete statement of the facts or legal theory that support the defendant’s stance.
The answer should be detailed and exact, so that the defendant can put time and energy into defending the case itself rather than clarifying or correcting ambiguities that the plaintiff may note after receiving the answer.
Other elements to consider when drafting an answer are outlined in Tex. R. Civ. P. 85, including counterclaims, pleas to jurisdiction, transfers of venue, special exceptions, and general denial. Many of these topics are the focus of other posts in this series. Failure to correctly and timely plead certain elements may cause a plaintiff to waive various defenses and have detrimental consequences at trial.
Drafting an answer to a lawsuit requires someone familiar with all the complexities of litigation. A lawyer with such expertise should draft an answer to help the defendant successfully defend against unfounded allegations.
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