When a creditor or a debt collector doesn’t receive payment according to the terms of a credit agreement, they may file a debt collection lawsuit against the debtor, which is a legal action that asks for a court to intervene and award a judgment. If you have been served with notice that such a lawsuit has been filed against you, you should not ignore it. You should contact an experienced Ohio debt lawyer to discuss your options for responding. There are strict timeframes and procedures involved in debt collection lawsuits, and it is important to take them seriously in order to protect your rights.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Sued?
Once you’ve been served with notice that a creditor or debt collector has filed a debt collection lawsuit against you, your first step should be to consult a qualified consumer law attorney. With your attorney, you should immediately draft an answer and file it with the court by the specified due date. There are serious consequences for failing to answer, including having a default judgment entered against you by the court for the amount claimed in the lawsuit.
Your attorney will help you determine what defenses you might be able to raise in your response to the lawsuit. For example, Ohio has a statute of limitations that specifies the time limit that a creditor has to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit that has been filed beyond the statute of limitations may be entitled to a complete dismissal by the court. There are various statutes of limitations depending on the type of debt, and an attorney can help you make that determination. Other defenses may be that the goods or services promised to you were never received, were defective, or that you were deceived or threatened unlawfully when you acquired the debt.
You may also be able to raise certain counterclaims against the creditor or debt collector and ask for monetary damages or even cancellation of the debt agreement. A common counterclaim is that the debt collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) which places restrictions on the conduct of collectors in debt collection attempts. Your attorney will be able to help you determine the most applicable counterclaims that may be included in your response.
What Happens if a Judgment is Entered Against Me?
If the court enters a judgment against you because you failed to respond to the lawsuit, the creditor can enforce it in different ways. The judgment will usually include the full amount of the debt claimed in the lawsuit, interest, court costs such as filing fees, service costs, and discovery costs, and attorneys’ fees. To collect on a judgment, a creditor or debt collector may be able to garnish a person’s wages, place a lien on bank accounts, or place a lien on real property owned by the debtor.
A judgment can only be changed by a court, and it is very difficult to get a court to modify or set aside a judgment once the case has been decided. It is much easier to respond to a debt collection lawsuit from the beginning rather than deal with a court judgment.
Experienced Ohio Debt Attorneys Can Help
Debt collection lawsuits are a serious matter that should not be ignored. If you are facing a debt collection lawsuit, you should contact Luftman, Heck & Associates for help. Our highly skilled Ohio debt attorneys can help you analyze the lawsuit against you and respond accordingly.