Facing a lawsuit will often pose one of the biggest stressors in your life, especially if you know nothing of how the process works. Can you lose all of your money? Will you face bankruptcy or eviction? And what happens if a creditor is the one suing you? Feeling overwhelmed by these questions can lead to freezing up or falling into obvious pitfalls.

Thus, your best bet lies in the preparation. How does a lawsuit work? What should you expect? And most importantly, what mistakes can you avoid making?

Stages of a lawsuit

Forbes takes a look at the stages of being sued by a creditor. This walks you through the process from the filing stage in which a creditor files a complaint with a state civil court, all the way to the judgment stage in which a court judge rules for or against you. If they rule against you, you must pay the debt.

However, people make plenty of mistakes along the way that can make the entire process much harder than it needs to be, or even lead directly to a judge ruling against you.

5 crucial mistakes

The first mistake? Ignoring the lawsuit. Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem go away, as tempting as it might seem initially.

Second, skipping the hearing. When you skip the hearing, you have no chance to defend yourself and the judge will almost certainly rule against you.

Third, assuming you do not have options. While it can feel like getting sued has backed you into a corner, that is not the case. You can take action to protect yourself and your assets.

Fourth, borrowing money to pay your debt. This will only set you back into a cycle of debt and borrowing money which could eventually lead you right back to a creditor suing you.

Fifth and finally, not talking to an attorney. Having the guidance of someone with knowledge in legal realms serves as invaluable support.