If you take no action, your creditor will obtain a judgment after 35 days have passed from the time you receive the lawsuit. Once the creditor obtains a judgment, the creditor can take actions to collect the money. If you are working, the creditor may be able to garnish your wages. If you have money in the bank, the creditor can place a levy on you bank accounthe debt. This can be done without giving you notice of their intent to levy. The creditor my also send the sheriff to your home to inventory your possessions as part of its effort to collect on the judgment. The judgment can also be docketed as a lien on your real estate.
Fortunately, there are actions you can take to temporarily postpone the entry of a judgment against you. These include filing an answer to the complaint within the 35-day limit. When you file an answer, the Court will schedule the lawsuit for a trial. The trial may be scheduled anytime from approximately one to three months after you file an answer.
Another alternative is to work out a payment schedule with the creditor, usually through its attorneys. Sometimes a reasonable payment plan can be worked out to avoid the entry of a judgment against you, as long as you continue to make the agreed upon payments on time.
Finally, filing a bankruptcy stops the collection lawsuit immediately in the overwhelming majority of cases. If the bankruptcy is filed before a judgment is entered, garnishments, liens and levies are prevented.
In many cases the best strategy is to take steps to postpone the entry of a judgment while your bankruptcy is prepared for filing and the have your bankruptcy filed before the creditor has an opportunity to enter a judgment against you
But even if a judgment is already entered, garnishments can be stopped and, in most cases, levies can be released after filing your bankruptcy.
Usually, the worst thing you can do is to ignore a lawsuit. Call my office as soon as possible after receiving a lawsuit so we can go over your options with you and see which strategy works best.