A lawsuit can be a time consuming and stressful experience. While an attorney will help alleviate much of the stress, there will come a time where you must testify or provide written and verified responses. It is important to note that while no one can physically compel you to make these appearances or answer written discovery, the courts can, and will, impose harsh penalties on parties who fail to comply with reasonable discovery requests after filing a lawsuit.
As an example I had a case in which an elderly woman had given the defendants all of her equity because she thought she was investing it in a company. Instead these defendants used the money for their own purposes and claimed the investment had gone bad. When I sued these people, they countersued my client in a bogus attempt to try to scare her into dismissing her legitimate lawsuit.
Because these defendants were representing themselves they thought they did not have to answer the discovery I sent them. Since no response was ever made by them I was able to obtain a court order demanding they make responses and pay attorney’s fees and costs for the motion I had to file. Since they failed to respond even after this order, I was then able to file a second motion which dismissed their frivolous lawsuit entirely.
California law allows represented parties to recover attorney’s fees and for any party (represented or not) to recover actual costs incurred in pursuing motions to force a reticent party to engage in the discovery process. In some cases the court can make other orders as well. A witness that fails to appear for a deposition, for example, can have a bench warrant issued against them which could mean that person is arrested by law enforcement.
It is for these reasons that you must understand the significance of failing to take part in your lawsuit.