When you are sued on a debt that you owe, you have several options. Knowing your options can make the difference between a good outcome and unpleasant surprises later.
First of all, you will notice that you received certified mail from the court. This is your indication that you are actually being sued. Sometimes creditors will send you letters that look like lawsuits. Letters that contain lawsuits that are not actually filed with the court. These letters typically do not come to you by certified mail. They are also not sent to you from the court. When you receive a certified letter from the court though you know that you are actually being sued.
What happens if you do not pick up your certified mail? Under Ohio law, if you refuse to pick up your certified mail, this does not stop the lawsuit. All the creditor has to do is inform the court that you are not picking up your certified mail and ask the court to reissue your lawsuit by regular mail. This is all the notice required under Ohio law to effectively serve you and permit the creditor to proceed with a lawsuit.
The court notice indicates that you have 28 days to file an answer. What does this mean? An answer is a written document that responds to all of the numbered paragraphs of the complaint against you one by one. You can admit or deny each one or you can deny the information based upon your lack of knowledge to make an informed admission or denial. This is rather complicated, I know, and that is why it is generally not a good idea to try to file your own answer and represent yourself when you are sued unless you have special legal training.
If you do not file an answer then after 28 days the creditor can ask the court to issue a judgment against you for the amount that you have been sued for. Generally, this is exactly what happens when you failed to answer a lawsuit. A judgment by default, it is called. This means that legally you owe the debt and, more importantly, it means that the creditor is now able to take collection action against you.
The creditor can proceed to garnish wages, and take money out of your bank account. There certain assets that you have that cannot be taken by creditors, for example, they cannot take Social Security income. Also, bank accounts are protected up to 450$.
Wage garnishments are limited to 25% of your pay. If you are garnished you are supposed to be given an opportunity to make a payment equal to the amount that the creditor would garnished from you voluntarily. This means that your employer will not become involved. This is called a payment to avoid garnishment.
You need to know your options when you are sued
If you have been sued, it’s probably a good idea to get legal advice. You might want to fight the lawsuit or you might want to consider other options. Normally, I find that when my clients have been sued that means that there are other debts that are also behind or are not being paid. Oftentimes this means that an overall strategy to deal with your debt is in order. I offer a free consultation to determine whether or not you might want to consider debt settlement, credit counseling, debt consolidation, or even bankruptcy.