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Defenses For A Debt Collection Lawsuit in Ohio
Don’t ignore a lawsuit or accept a judgment.
You have options or may not even legally owe the debt in question. LHA can investigate and determine your best path forward.
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Defending Against Debt Collection Lawsuits
Creditors and debt collectors, in general, are becoming more aggressive about collecting debts and suing debtors when debts remain unpaid. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for outstanding unpaid debts to get written off, but nowadays, medical debts are among those with the fastest rising collection rates, and more people are finding themselves defendants in lawsuits over unpaid bills.
Don’t Ignore the Notice
When you receive notice that you’re being sued because of a debt, it’s important to take that seriously. If you ignore the lawsuit, the creditor can get a default judgment against you, which means they win just because you didn’t respond. A default judgment then allows them to take further actions, like garnishing your paycheck or bank account or putting a lien on your property.
Instead, talk to an experienced lawyer licensed to practice law in Ohio about how to respond. Depending on the details, your lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed or negotiate to settle your debt.
Not Just Any Debt Attorney
As a founding partner with LHA, Jeremiah E. Heck is a leader in debtor defense and dedicated to protecting consumers. Even if there is a lawsuit against you, it is possible to get relief.
Common Debt Collection Lawsuit Defenses
The news has been full of stories about creditors and collection agencies trying to collect debts from the wrong people, for debts that have been paid, or after the time limit for collection has passed. A collection lawsuit defense lawyer can help you defend against legal action from a debt collector.
You Already Paid the Debt
If you have documentation that you paid the debt in full or through an agreed settlement, then your debt collection attorney may be able to get the case against you dismissed.
You Never Owed the Debt
Maybe the true debtor had a similar name, or someone mixed up the paperwork. If you can show that the debt isn’t yours, your case may be dismissed. However, if you co-signed for the debt or a former spouse was supposed to pay it through divorce settlement but didn’t, you may be held responsible for the debt.
The Debt Was Discharged
While your bankruptcy is active, the creditor is prevented from suing you by a provision in federal bankruptcy law called an “automatic stay” that requires that all collection activity against you cease. You no longer legally owe the debt once your bankruptcy is discharged through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Statute of Limitations Has Expired
In Ohio, civil lawsuits to collect debts must be filed within a certain time, or the creditor loses the right to sue you. That deadline is called a statute of limitations. For most debts, the Ohio statute of limitations is six years from the last time you made a payment or the account was closed. If a creditor sues you after the statute of limitations has expired, then your attorney may be able to get the case dismissed.
The Creditor Doesn’t Own the Debt
A plaintiff must have standing or legal status that gives them the right to file a lawsuit. For a lawsuit regarding a debt, the plaintiff must own the debt to have the right to sue.
Let’s say you’re being sued over medical debt, and the hospital filed the lawsuit, but it turns out that the hospital sold the debt to a collection agency. Once the hospital sold the debt, it lost the right to take legal action. If the entity suing you doesn’t own the debt, your lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed.
There’s No Basis for the Debt Collection Lawsuit
Many debt collection lawsuits are based on a breach of contract or didn’t do something you formally agreed to do, such as pay back a loan. If the lawsuit fails to allege that you did something that gives the plaintiff the right to sue you, then your Ohio debt defense lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed.
Why Use a Debtor Defense Attorney
If you’ve been served with a debt lawsuit, you may have no idea what to do next. Working with a lawyer can help in many ways.
Reduce Your Stress
The legal process is stressful no matter what you have to face. When you work with an attorney licensed in Ohio with a background in debt cases, they can take the worst parts off your shoulders.
Understand Your Rights
When dealing with consumer debt, you need to know your rights under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). LHA will inform you of your consumer protections and make sure they are respected.
Representation in Court
If you receive a Complaint, you must file an Answer. There will also be other legal documents and court hearings. Your attorney can draft necessary paperwork and appear on your behalf.