Never Ignore a Lawsuit!

They don’t go away on their own.

What if I don’t go to court?

If you receive a summons and don’t go to court, you will automatically lose!  Your creditor will ask for a “default judgment” against you. Since you are not there to protest, the judge will probably grant your creditor’s request.  GAME OVER!

What will happen to me in court?

That depends. When you go to court, the judge will give you the opportunity to speak for yourself.  You can:

•          admit that you owe the debt; or,

•          deny owing the debt, or,

•          ask for time to talk to a lawyer.

If you admit that you owe the debt, the judge will enter a judgment against you, right then.

If you deny that you owe the debt, the judge will set the case for trial in about 30 days.

If you ask for time to talk to a lawyer, the judge will continue the case for about 30 days.

What is a judgement?

A judgment is a legal finding that you owe the debt. A judgment against you allows your creditor to begin taking legal steps to collect the debt.  Judgments can appear on your credit report.  A judgment on your credit report will hurt your credit rating — even if you later pay the debt!

What will happen at trial?

You can make the creditor prove that you owe the debt.  You will be able to testify and present evidence. You will also be able to call witnesses who can testify in your favor, and “cross-examine” your creditor and the creditor’s witnesses.

What happens if I win?

The judge will enter an order against your creditor.  The order will keep them from being able to collect from you.

If I win, can I collect for the time and money that I spent defending myself?

Probably not, unless you can prove that the creditor’s pursuit of the debt was done for malicious reasons (the creditor just did it to hurt you), or that the creditor did something during the suit that cost you additional time and money.

What if I lose?

The court will enter judgment against you, and you will be responsible for paying the debt, or discharging the debt in bankruptcy.

by Dianna Coy Long at Mid-Missouri Bankruptcy Center

Read: What Are My Defenses?