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Craig K. Perry
How to Defend Against a Lawsuit
You can respond to being sued for a debt in several ways:
Ignore it. If you do this, the person suing you, the Plaintiff, will take a default judgment against you. They will obtain a default judgment for the amount owed, interest on the award that will only increase in the future, attorneys's fees and costs of suit. Judgments do expire but can be renewed. We've seen many Plaintiffs let the cases sit uncollected for several years until they attempt to try and collect. We have seen debts that began as $3,000 grow to over $20,000 over time.
File Bankruptcy. This is never a first option, and in our opinion should only be considered if all other options have been exhausted.
Represent yourself. You can try to learn both the rules of civil procedure and substantive laws of the land and try to defend yourself in court.
Settle with the Plaintiff. You can contact the Plaintiff or its attorney an try to reach a payment plan. Remember that any payment made renews the statute of limitations on the debt, meaning if the debt is time-barred, you just eliminated a very strong and common defense.
Retain an Attorney. You can hire an attorney either to defend the lawsuit or attempt to settle it, when appropriate.
For those who want to try and defend themselves, understand that although it's your right to do so, you will spend many hours learning how to do so. There is limited help online, look around for non-profit law centers. We think that in the long run, you're much better off consulting with an attorney before you do anything. You'll be surprised at your options.
Whatever you do, don't let this lawsuit intimidate you, and don't become one of the 95 percent who simply allow the Plaintiff to obtain a default judgment against you.