Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Note that timeline, legislation, and any of the provided information may vary from state to state.
Typically, you have twenty to thirty calendar days from when you or someone in your household received the summons and complaint (not counting the day of service) to file a response with the court. However, that time might be shorter in some cases, as the rules vary state to state. Please read the summons and all papers you received carefully!
We strongly encourage you to communicate with the court and record correspondence for your future reference. You have a few options:
1. Negotiate a settlement with the “plaintiff” (the party suing you)
Submit an offer to settle your debt through Engage. We will send your offer to the plaintiff that’s suing you, whether it’s the creditor of the law firm they’ve hired if one is present. Keep an eye on the calendar. If you do not hear back and only have a few days left to respond, we recommend calling the law firm or creditor directly to try to negotiate a settlement.
Since the creditor has already spent the money to file a lawsuit, they are unlikely to accept a lowball offer. We recommend trying to make an offer for at least 70% of the amount owed. You may be able to set up a payment plan if you can’t afford this amount all at once.
If you do agree to a settlement or a payment plan, you still need to respond to the court and send case updates.
2. File an answer to the court
An answer is your written response to the lawsuit. You are the defendant.
You should file an answer to the court to avoid a default judgment, and to have an opportunity to defend yourself against the claims in the lawsuit.
If you don’t know what to do, we recommend writing to the court and disputing the debt. Disputing and requesting a hearing is your right, it has no negative legal implications regardless of the case’s circumstances. This is a good way to protect your rights, get the information you need from the creditor, and even work out a settlement agreement.
3. File a case to dismiss
You can file a case to dismiss if you believe the summons was not served properly, or the plaintiff lacks jurisdiction or did not properly state the claim. We recommend contacting an attorney to do this.
4. Do nothing - What will happen if I ignore a court summons? (Not-Recommended)
When a defendant fails to respond to a summons or to appear before a court of law, the “plaintiff” (the party suing you) can ask the court for a default judgment against you.