When a creditor or collection agency sues you for non-payment of debts, you are served with a complaint and must respond to it. Once you respond to the suit, the process starts with discovery, settlement conferences, motions for summary judgment, and a trial. Creditor lawsuits can be divided into routine and non-routine cases. In the former case, you receive a notice for a trial and date from the plaintiff. Sometimes, you might be sent a notice of settlement conference before the trial date. Ensure that you attend the settlement conference or trial. in a non-routine debt collection case, claims and counterclaims usually take place. You might need a lawyer for this.
The discovery process refers to a formal procedure to obtain relevant documents from each other and from the witnesses. These documents help both parties to prepare for a trial or settle the case. Usually, a routine debt collection case does not involve the discovery process as you know the money which you haven’t paid. Instead, the process involves deposition, where the witness or the concerned party is asked to answer questions orally under oath. The entire proceeding is recorded and is an expensive process. Interrogatories involved written questions that need to be answered in writing under oath.
The next step involves a request for documents for inspection. This usually requires you to submit a copy of the check, money order receipt, or any other documents supporting that you had paid the debt. Next is a request for admissions that allows either party to admit or deny the allegations in the lawsuit. A request for inspection and physical examination can follow this. Finally, a subpoena or an order informing the witness to appear at the deposition can be issued along with a subpoena duces tecum (bring specific documents to the hearing).
Some states limit the number of questions in discovery. You can ask the court for a protective order if the creditor harasses you with numerous interrogatory questions after deposition. It is advisable to answer the discovery questions in the allotted time to prevent further troubles. The creditor can get the judge to file a summary judgment motion by convincing them that no dispute exists regarding the case’s facts. To oppose the creditor’s summary judgment motion, you must file papers. Since responding to a summary judgment motion can be complicated, consulting with an attorney is recommended.
Most states and the federal court require concerned parties to come together before the trial to settle the case. Unfortunately, most cases do not go to trial and either settle or end in summary judgment. Once the discovery process is complete, the summary judgment motion is denied, and settlement efforts have been fruitless, you end up at a trial. In the trial, the judge makes the decisions regarding which evidence can be used. You are required to present your case at the trial as per the rules. Since the procedure is quite complicated, you require legal help to respond to the lawsuit for non-payment of the debt. Call 888-297-6203 to know how bankruptcy lawyers in Dallas can help you.