A woman in Seattle was recently sued $500,000 for the psychological pain and suffering and emotional distress that her barking dog made her neighbor experience. Sounds like a pretty silly lawsuit, right? That’s what Denise Norton thought, too, so she ignored the summons. Because she didn’t show up at court, though, the neighbor was awarded a default judgment for the full $500,000. Now she is facing losing her home.
You see, lawsuits never go away if you just ignore them. Unfortunately, too many people learn this the hard way when they go into debt. About 90% of people who are sued by creditors don’t file a response with the court, leaving them vulnerable to a default judgment. Creditors often threaten to sue, but any time that threat becomes a reality, you must take it seriously. If a creditor has started court proceedings, simply burying your head in the stand will only ensure the creditor’s victory through a default judgment—further worsening the situation.
In Ohio, a defendant has 28 days to respond to the complaint beginning from the date the defendant was served. If the defendant fails to respond, the Court may issue a ruling awarding the plaintiff all damages claimed in the complaint.
If I Have a Default Judgment Against Me, What Can I Do?
Once a default judgment has been made, it is an uphill battle to get it set aside (or undone) in Ohio. Generally, you should contact an Ohio consumer debt attorney right away to start the process and see if it will be possible. After all, the creditor can take immediate collection action against you (which will be harder still to recover). You may be able to get a default judgment set aside if you can prove that you had a good excuse for not responding and that you have a valid defense.
For many creditor lawsuits, though, this may not be possible. Then you have to consider other options. You can settle the lawsuit, but you will have lost your leverage after the default judgment has been made. A good option that many people do not realize exists is to file for bankruptcy. While no one wants to go down this road, bankruptcy can offer much-needed relief for those who are in over their heads in debt. This stops creditors from making any collection attempts and lets you figure out a new payment plan (or even get a completely clean slate.
If a creditor is suing you, make sure to respond to the lawsuit in the courts right away before this happens to you. If you are already the recipient of a default judgment, seek the advice of an experienced Ohio consumer debt attorney. Call us today at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (888) 726-3181 for a free consultation on your case. We are prepared to work with you to find the best solution for your debt.