People often end up owing money to credit card companies, medical providers, student loan holders, or any other creditor. If you are behind payments, the creditors might sue you to collect what you owe them. Usually, the creditor or collection agency might file a formal petition against you in court for non-payment of dues. The collection agency or their lawyer is required to serve you with a copy of the complaint along with a summon, which notifies you that you are being sued for non-payment of dues. The summon also notifies you when you are required to file a formal response in court. Usually, the courts require the creditor to serve the documents personally. However, most creditors hire professional process servers for this job. Creditors can also mail you the summon and the complaint along with an acknowledgment form to indicate that you have received the papers. It is advisable to sign the form and return it, or you might have to pay the process server costs.
Filing of the lawsuit and responding to it
The creditor can sue you in the state civil court. However, if you own money to the federal government, you can be sued in federal court. Most states allow the creditors to sue individuals in small claims court if the lawsuit amount is less than or around $10,000. Since small claims court procedures are more informal than state courts, many courts do not allow collection agencies to use the former option.
Once a lawsuit has been filed against you, you have around 20 to 30 days to file a return response. When you file your response, you must also pay a filing fee. However, if you are short on money, you can qualify for a fee waiver. Since drafting a formal response to the lawsuit is difficult, hiring an experienced lawyer is recommended in this case. The lawyer can help you with your defenses, prepare the written response, and represent you in the lawsuit. There are chances that you might be able to get a lawyer on a contingent fee basis, especially if you stand to get a substantial payout. If your present financial situation makes it difficult for you to hire a lawyer, you can represent yourself. However, you need to do some legal research to successfully be able to defend the case.
What Happens If You Don’t Respond?
Suppose you fail to meet the deadline for filing the response. In that case, the creditor can ask the court to enter a default judgment. This can go either way, with the court awarding the amount to the creditor as requested by them or reviewing the papers to ensure the amount is justified. Sometimes, the court may ask the creditor to present evidence before awarding any money to them.
While it is usually recommended that you respond to a lawsuit, sometimes not responding is in your best interest. This can be helpful if you already owe the debt, you have no defense, or the amount mentioned in the lawsuit by the creditor is accurate. However, before you default, ensure that you do not have any claims against the creditor. Consulting an attorney is advisable as they might be able to pick the proper defense or be aware of any violation. Call 888-297-6203 to discuss how you should respond to a lawsuit with experienced bankruptcy lawyers in Los Angeles.