Being served with notice that you’re being sued by a creditor can feel overwhelming. But it is not cause for panic. Thousands of debt collection lawsuits are filed each month in Texas. You’re not alone, and you’re not in serious trouble. But you do need to answer the debt collection lawsuit within a certain deadline. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to respond to a debt lawsuit in Texas.
How to Respond to a Debt Lawsuit in Texas: Steps to Take
You’ll learn that you’re being sued by being either physically served with documents, or by receiving notices posted to your door in the mail. These are the Citation and Petition. Be sure you note the day that you receive the Citation and Petition, as this day will determine how long you have to answer the lawsuit.
If you are sued in District Court, County Court at Law, or County Court you have 20 days, plus as many days are needed to reach the first Monday from when you received the debt lawsuit documents. So, you’ll have between 20-27 days to answer. If you are sued in the Justice of the Peace, you have 14 days to file a response. Although that may seem like plenty of time, it will likely alleviate stress, if you reach out to a debt defense attorney soon after being notified that you are being sued. So, what does an answer to a debt collection lawsuit in Texas look like? It is probably simpler than you think
Step 1: Answering the Lawsuit
In Texas, you need to answer a debt lawsuit, or a default judgment will be entered against you. If you’re working with a debt defense attorney, they may file a Motion for Summary Judgment to dismiss the suit on your behalf, if the facts are not on the side of the creditor, or if they failed to satisfy legal procedures for filing.
If your attorney does not find a reason that the lawsuit may be dismissed, they will work with you on your answers to each issue in the complaint. Answers may include a general denial of charges. Your attorney may also answer that as the defendant, you lack sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief regarding the facts in the allegation.
You and/or your attorney may also assert affirmative defenses in your answer. Affirmative defense answers include reasons why the lawsuit is without merit. For example, you or your attorney may assert that the accounts are not yours, or that you already paid the debt. Other affirmative defenses may assert that the statute of limitations has passed, therefore the lawsuit is without merit.
Step 2: File Your Answer With the Court
Once you have completed your answer, you or your attorney will need to file your answer with the court. In Texas, this can often be done electronically, in just moments. You will also need to print a copy of your answer to the lawsuit because you’ll need to serve the creditor with your answer.
Step 3: Serve the Creditor With Your Answer
You must provide the creditor with a copy of your answer. You can mail or email these documents. You can also hand-deliver the documents. Your attorney can also ensure that the answers are received.
What to Expect After Answering A Debt Lawsuit
After you or your attorney has answered the complaint, one of a few things will happen. The case may move into discovery, which is a formal request for information and documentation of relevant facts of the case. In other cases, your attorney may be successful in their Motion to Dismiss, and the case will be thrown out. Or, the case may be set for trial, or mediation may be required.
Contact a San Antonio Debt Defense Attorney
The experienced attorneys at Debt Legal Defense provide affordable flat-fee pricing for vigorous debt defense. Monthly payments are also available to ensure you get the legal help you need if you’ve been sued for debt. Contact us today for help with a debt lawsuit by calling 210-468-1008.