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I Just Got Served With A Lawsuit. What Do I do Now?

 

I just got served with a lawsuit.  Someone knocked on my door and handed me papers called a Complaint and a Summons.  What do I do now?

Don't panic, you are being sued.  It is probably for a debt that a creditor believes you owe, but that does not mean you owe it.  There are steps you must take to make sure that you are not involuntarily forced to pay the debt without having your day in court and a chance to defend yourself.

First, READ what you have recieved.  Read the complaint completely.  Notice who is listed as the "Plaintiff".  Is it a credit card company or is it some other company that has taken over the credit card company?  This is a debt buyer, and that may be important if and when you want to negotiate payment.  Check to make sure everything is accurate and makes sense.  Next, read the Summons.  This tells you exactly what you must do to properly respond to the complaint.  Failure to properly respond to the complaint could result in you being held "in default" and a judgment by default will be entered against you.  A judgment is the conferring of a legal right upon another.  If they get a judgment against you, then they have a legal right to the money, and they can look at your assets and wages to satisfy the payment obligation.  It is critical that you read the summons and follow the instructions as it will tell you that you need to be in court on a certain date and time, or require you to file a written answer to the complaint.

Next, you need to determine if you have a defense.  If you do, you may have to decide on a defense when you file your answer.  If you do want to defend the lawsuit, consult an attorney for the best advice on what steps must be taken to protect your rights.  SmithMarco, P.C., offers defense of debts at reasonable rates in certain jurisdictions throughout the United States.  Give us a call about your lawsuit at 888-822-1777.

You may want to work out a payment agreement.  Often the law firm that filed the lawsuit has collection agents available to work out a deal with people in your situation. Call them and attempt to work out a payment agreement.   There are two very important things:  (1) Collectors, including any lawyers, are "debt collectors" as defined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  They must follow all the law, including refraining from harassment, abuse, deception, unconscionable practices, and improper third party contact.  (2) They cannot tell you that this means you do not have to be in court, so don't skip out on your responsibility to be in court or to file your written answer on time. 

Even if you  work out a payment plan, if you do not defend the case properly (or get the law firm to agree to dismiss the case) they will go ahead and enter the judgment.  That way, if you are late with any payments on a plan, they will have the right, because of the judgment, to take action to force involuntary payment, such as a wage garnishment or a bank account garnishment.  If you do work out a payment agreement, make sure that the case is dismissed based upon the settlement, and no judgment is entered.

Remember, judgments can be put on your credit report where they will remain for ten (10) years, so be sure to take care of any lawsuit that is served upon you.  Call SmithMarco, P.C., for a free case review.

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