Served with a Collection Lawsuit? Here are THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO.
Updated: May 28
So you've been served with a debt collection lawsuit...now what?! After getting over the shock of having a law enforcement officer knocking on your door and handing you papers, you are probably left scratching your head as to what comes next. If you are like most people, you have never been sued before, have no idea how the court system operates, and are uncertain as to what your rights and duties are with respect to the lawsuit.
Lawsuits have serious consequences
When a creditor sues you they are taking the first step to legally enforce their debt. This could harm your credit and lead to the garnishment of your wages.
If you get sued, the best thing to do is to seek competent legal advice from an attorney experienced in debt and collection matters. There are also some things you should not do when you get served with a collection lawsuit.
Here are THREE DON'TS after being served with a debt collection lawsuit.
DON'T ignore the lawsuit. Ayn Rand once wrote, "you can ignore reality, but you can not ignore the consequences of ignoring reality." It always amazes me when clients come in to see me with piles of unopened bills and stacks of lawsuit paperwork that they haven't even read. Sticking a legal citation in a drawer with the mindset of "out of sight, out of mind" may make you feel better temporarily, but the reality is that the lawsuit will move forward whether or not you are participating in it. It will move forward to your detriment.
DON'T call the debt collecting attorney. Many people have the urge to call the attorney who is suing them in the hopes that he or she will "work with them." The attorney for the debt collector does not represent you! His or her job is to look out for the best interest of the collector which means, getting you to pay as much as possible on the debt. Furthermore, most debt collection attorneys have an impenetrable layer of collectors, receptionists and automated systems between them and you, so it is unlikely you would be able to get them on the phone even if it were in your best interest to do so.
DON'T assume that you will get your day in court. I've had many clients tell me over the years that they didn't respond to a lawsuit because they were "waiting on their court date." In truth, there are no court dates in debt collection lawsuits unless you take action by filing a response. If you ignore the lawsuit, then the collector can simply mail in a default judgment after an appropriate number of days have passed and the judge will usually sign it without you ever seeing the courthouse.
The bottom line is, if you've been sued by a debt collector, seek legal advice.
I've represented thousands of clients in debt related matters in the city, parish, state, federal, bankruptcy and appeals court levels. You have options, whether it be a valid defense to the lawsuit, bankruptcy or debt settlement. If you've been served with a lawsuit and want to discuss your options, give me a call or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It doesn't cost you anything to talk it over and to discuss your options.