... it's not the end of the world. But, you cannot simply let the summons lie hoping it will go away. It won't. The person suing you, in most states, will get a default judgment if you do nothing. Default judgment means they win by default because you didn't respond. The court presumes that because you didn't respond, you don't have any arguments to their claims and you concede.
Couple hours ago, a guy over on CIC posted that he was being sued. Summons was served on him 5/27 (more than 2 weeks ago), and in Washington state you have 20 days to respond. If this guy does nothing about it--and he's got only Thursday and Friday to act--he's going to have a default judgment against him for a debt last paid on in 1999 (per the summons and complaint). This is 2007, 6 years is the max SOL in Washington, so the debt is timebarred from being reported and beyond the SOL.
Yes, there are lowlife attorneys out there suing people over debts which are well past the 7 year reporting period (meaning it cannot get reported to the CRAs) and in many cases the debt is beyond the SOL. Only a few states, California that I know of, prohibit lawsuits over debts beyond the SOL. In most states, you can get sued over a timebarred debt that is beyond the SOL. If you do nothing, the person suing you gets a default judgment.
Filing a Notice of Appearance and Answer in response to a Summons and Complaint is a relatively easy thing for the layperson to do.
NJP is a not-for-profit providing free civil legal assistance to low-income people. They maintain the Washington LawHelp website, and between the two there is a tremendous amount of information and guidance for the uninformed.
I used the information there, when a CA sued me, to file an Answer and Notice of Appearance, avoided a default judgment, and I was able to then negotiate repayment terms on the debt. Repaying 'em $200 a month with no lump sum.
Knowing what I know now, I probably coulda negotiated it for far less than the full amount and perhaps gotten a PFD.
I don't profess to be an expert, but I can probably run down some resources for you. I daresay Tuscani knows more than a thing or two on the subject as well.
That is a good post, lawsuits are on the rise, one reason cited is the changes in BK laws.
I can't stress enough that if you do get a summons answer it, plan on appearing NO MATTER WHAT. Even if the lawyer representing the CA or Creditor says they will drop it, show up anyway.
They prey on the fact that many people no nothing of default judgments and that people don't know about State's SOL on collecting on Bad debt.
And that is another reason I have posted before on how far and how long you play hard ball with a CA with trying to get a PFD. I do strongly recomend trying as hard as you can to get one, using all resources avaialable. But before you do make sure you have the money to cover the debt. For once reason, you will have better leverage in getting a PFD if you have the money to pay it off in one lump sum and two if you have the money to pay it off in one lump sum, you'll have that as your back up in case you just can't get them to budge on the PFD. When you play hard ball with them, and they don't comply to what you want , you can lose any sort of leverage in negotionting any form of reasonable payment plan and CA are very sue happy. CA are not legally bound to offer a settlement or a payment plan so keep that in mind. So if you want a PFD and want to play hardball, which you should, make sure you have the money on hand. Don't get yourself into a very bad situation. Also keep that in mind if your debt is over a $1,000 you are in prime territory for being sued if they debt is getting close to your state's SOL. There is no magical number on how much a CA or creditor will sue for, they could for $500 so they is no set number.
So be carefull, be diligent, Know your State's SOL, know your rights and then proceed.
Someone please help me here!!! I am be sued for $5,115.00 and on this I owe them $1,465.00. The lawyer added the extra for her fees. She will not take the amount the I really owe. So now I got my papers from a sheiff last night. And What should I do in this case?
Call and talk to a human. Don't just leave a message on their recorder. You might get a legal secretary, maybe a paralegal, maybe an actual lawyer.
In some states, CAs aren't permitted to tack on fees over and above the amount of debt charged off by the OC. The lawyer should know whether they can or not. If not, call the consumer division of your state's Office of Attorney General. Some are very pro-active.
What's the statute of limitation on the debt? If you don't know, what state are in and what kind of debt is it (credit card, promissory note, medical bill, etc.)?
Have you pulled your CRs and do you see the debt on your CRs? What's the DOLP and DOLA reported? Also, you'll want to call the CRAs and find out the DOFD.
Many folks report having trouble finding a lawyer to talk with them over a debt that is owed. Here are a couple of ideas. First, when you talk to someone, whether it's a lawyer, para-legal, or legal secretary, stress the urgency by telling them, "Hi, I need to talk with a lawyer as I have been sued."
1) Whether they are in NACA or not, talk to a BK lawyer. Open the phone book, and turn to Attorneys or Lawyers. They are usually listed by their specialty, there's a pantload of BK lawyers out there. Call around and you're bound to find one who will talk to you. If there's a picture, try looking for one who looks young--might be eager and trying to keep their practice afloat so they might be willing to talk to ANYONE.
2) If you do get hold of a lawyer listed on NACA, ask them if they know someone who can help--whether it's a lawyer or a consumer advocate. Everyone needs a Budd.
3) Any lawyer you talk to, ask about any sort of legal aid provided by the state. See if there's a referral service, a number, website, office, etc. Those sometimes have income limits for their services, but call or visit them anyway. Might be a slow day and they might be willing to talk with you anyway.
4) State bar associations will sometimes offer services. Referrals, consults, perhaps free, perhaps for a fee.
5) Call your state AG. Their consumer division might be able to help at least refer you to an attorney. Tell 'em you're having trouble finding one, and does the law have any sort of provision to help ensure someone has legal representation in a civil matter.
6) Call the court where you're being sued and ask about any sort of guides, forms, handouts, etc. for a person coming into court to be able to represent themselves.
7) Many employer's offer legal referral services. Talk to your HR department for details. HR folks are taught to be sensitive to sensitive matters, but you don't have to give them any details. Give them something vague and non-committal.
"Oh, ah, there's a neighborhood, thing, going on that a couple of us are concerned about. Don't want to go into details."
HR people will often promise confidentiality, but it's JMHO that I don't say anything in front of HR that I would not say in front of my boss. [In my case, that doesn't rule out a whole lot.] The 2 issues they might fret over are criminal matters or divorce. Either can be a big issue for companies.
Under some plans, you're guaranteed free or low cost consults or perhaps set economical hourly rates on representation. Attorney-client privilege stands, so don't worry about your employer finding out. The lawyer you consult with ain't gonna tell--not unless they are looking to get sued by you.
8) Ask members of your church, coworkers, friends, family if they know an attorney who might be able to help you out with something. You don't have to give them detail either, if you don't wanna.
"Oh, umm, just a, civil thing I need to go over with an attorney. Nothing bad or anything."
They too will likely think criminal or divorce, and you don't wanna worry folks. Besides, if you tell 'em the truth you risk a lecture. "Well, if you just paid ..."
9) There are lawyers who sometimes advertise as credit repair lawyers. Some are outfits like Lex Law, and they really are lawyers, but they ain't never set foot in a courtroom and ain't never gonna. Others will got to bat in court, if needed. But what you need is someone who is interested in talking with you--not interesting in "signing you up".
10) Don't be afraid to call a lawyer who is some distance away. You might find the guy or gal who advertises, "I help you settle debts so you won't have to file Bankruptcy, even if you're being sued. I like a good fight with a debt collector." However, they are 250 miles across the state. So what? Pick up the phone and call. Tell 'em your situation. A lot can happen over the phone. If they decide to help, you can fax them anything you need to send them. Push comes to shove, and you have to take a day or two from work and drive over there, so be it--but it seems likely it could be accomplished over the phone.
12) While they aren't lawyers, they probably get these sorta questions and may be able to help or direct you. Contact someone like CCCS.
Any lawyer you talk with, if they don't see that they can represent you, ask them flat out, "Any way you would be willing to negotiate a settlement of this debt and dismissal of the lawsuit for a fee?"
If not, come back at them with, "OK, suppose I manage to negotiate some kind of payment arrangement with this collector. I want to get something in writing from them so I know this won't come back and bite me. Any way you could write up something for a fee that you know would stand up in court and protect me?"
If still no, "How about if I manage to negotiate something, in writing, and I run the written agreement by you for a fee to ensure they didn't insert some 'weasel clause'?"
Moderators - I wonder if you should "sticky" this post. I've noticed an increase in questions about being sued by a creditor, and I think that these links and information will help guide them on what to do and how to find an attorney to help them. Perhaps summarize all the links to attorney information, such as NACA, American Bar Association, and NACBA.
TheNewWorldMan wrote: I'll look into it. We just have to make clear we're not offering legal advice...that way the Lawyer's Guild doesn't think we're trying to usurp their sacred, occult ritual power and anger their gods.
HELP! I am being sued for an old Target credit card. The orig dept was up to 2900. They are willing to settle for 1700. They have hired an attr to handle it and have sent the citation to make me aware of the situation.
Right now, I have the 1700 but I also NEED a pay for delete from target if I'm going to shell out that kind of money. Problem is, I've been told the offer ends on Monday, any advice?