When a creditor files a lawsuit against you, you are required to file a response with the court within 28 days from the day you are served with the lawsuit. If you fail to file a response, the creditor will likely get a judgment against you by filing a motion for default judgment. A default judgment means that an actual judgment has been rendered against you by a court of law. You will no longer have the ability to argue the case on the merits and present any defense you may have once had, and the creditor will oftentimes begin reporting this judgment to the three major credit reporting agencies.
Once a creditor has a obtained the judgment they seek to collect the money owed under the judgment through various means including: garnishing wages, placing a lien on a debtor’s bank account and withdrawing money from that account pursuant to a court order or placing a judgment lien on personal property that a debtor owns.
By hiring an attorney to represent you, it is easy to avoid a default judgment as the attorney can file a response with the court by the 28 day deadline. The type of response varies from case to case but allows a debtor to present any defenses they may have and can provide a vehicle for obtaining further verification of the debt and whether the creditor has a right to bring the lawsuit. The response stage of a lawsuit is critical as it preserves an individual’s defenses, and determines the how the remainder of the case will progress. Filing the correct type of response could also possibly result in a more favorable settlement of the case or, in some cases, a dismissal of the case.
If a default judgment has been entered against you, it may not be too late. In some cases there are facts that can be presented to the court which may lead to the court removing the judgment. Particularly, if there are service issues. Sometimes a plaintiff will improperly serve you with the summons and complaint, and this is a potential argument to vacate the judgment as a void judgment. Even if those facts do not exists in your particular case, it is still possible to work out a payment plan or settlement with the creditor in order to prevent other collection efforts.
Whether you have just been served with a lawsuit or already have a default judgment entered against you, contacting an attorney to discuss your options can make the process easier to navigate and could result in a much better outcome than choosing not to file a response.