Bankruptcy Law Questions? Ask a Bankruptcy Lawyer Now.
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While it can be intimidating to receive a summons from a creditor, it may be a little premature to consider bankruptcy on what is ultimately a relatively small debt (unless you have a number of other debts as well). A few things to keep in mind, however:
(1) It is important to respond to the lawsuit, and to appear at the court date provided in the "summons" that you should have received. Failure to respond is generally a default judgment, meaning that the creditor would then have the right to use what are called post-judgment remedies to try and collect the debt, often including garnishment of wages and seizure of funds from a bank account. So, first and foremost, it is important to respond to the suit.
ok i understand. and by responding would it mean calling the creditor or how?
That is a good question. By "responding", I mean filing an "answer" to the lawsuit with the county court in which you were sued. Often county courts will have a form "answer" that can be filled out, along with what is called an "Appearance" form, which signifies that you are appearing in the case and that a default judgment should not be awarded.
Now, speaking with the creditor (or their attorney) to try and negotiate a settlement prior that date is also a good idea, and at least worth a phone call to see if the debt can be resolved first. They may be willing to take payments on the debt, or even settle for less than the amount claimed. Although not a guarantee, it never hurts to try.
oh ok. i see. so by me calling the creditor and triying to make an arangement was that a mistake?
ok sorry just saw your previous message
Not at all. Often suits can be settled just like that, by negotiation over the phone. If, however, the creditor is unwilling to settle, then filing an "answer' and "appearance" may be necessary.
is there a time frame i have to respond?
That's ok ;) Also, keep in mind that sometimes cases like this will settle in court as well, once the defendant (you) have filed a response. Further, do not be surprised if there is a fee to file your answer and appearance, most states do require this, and fees can run anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the jurisdiction (some, like in California, can get even higher).
So, in short, it is important to respond to the suit, but trying to resolve the issue prior to having to appear in court is a perfectly reasonable thing to try. One thing to keep in mind, if you do settle, is to make sure that the creditor has agreed to dismiss the suit (stop pursuing the suit) because you have settled.
One strategy that many debt attorneys and defendants use is to raise the specter of bankruptcy to try and encourage the creditor to settle, and this does sometimes work, because ultimately the creditor wants to get paid, and in bankruptcy they may not.
I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any additional questions or need clarification on anything I have said. Otherwise, if you do not have any further questions, please remember to RATE my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work.
i dont, and i really appriciate your help.. You have a great day.