How do I defend myself in my Alabama debt collection lawsuit?

“How do I defend myself in my Alabama debt collection lawsuit?”

What to do in your collection lawsuit if you are going to represent yourself

What should you be doing to prepare for your trial in your collection lawsuit?

When you’re sued by a debt collector, you have 5  options in how to deal with your debt collection case. 

One of those options is to represent yourself in your collection lawsuit.

Make sure you file your answer for your debt collection lawsuit on time

If you’re late filing your answer, you will get a default judgment against you.  You have 14 days from the date of service in district or small claims court and 30 days from date of service in circuit court.

Make sure you know when your trial date is and show up for your trial

You won’t be notified by certified mail — instead you will get a regular piece of mail that will tell you your trial date.  If you don’t have one shortly after you file an answer, call the court and ask if a trial date has been set in your case.

You may be thinking, “Okay, this is good advice, but what about preparing for trial?

You can contact us directly

We will gladly send you an article that talks about the 7 most common mistakes people make when they testify in their debt collection trial.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447 to request this article.

This is helpful in preparing for your case — you simply do the opposite of these mistakes.  🙂

Call your judge’s office to find out about other trials

Let them know when your court date is to see if there are any dockets, or days of trial, that you can observe.

So if you are sued in small claims court, ask about when other small claims cases will be handled by your judge.

They will tell you what day, or days, they have them.

They’re more than happy for you to sit in on these cases, especially since all of these cases are open to the public.

Go to those trials and observe

It helps you know where the court house is, what it’s like to go through security, and make sure that you know where your judge’s courtroom is.  (Many people have lost on the day of trial because they sat in an empty courtroom not knowing they were in the wrong courtroom while their case was tried and lost next door without them).

You can also sit and look around the courtroom.

Sometimes these courtrooms are so large, people’s voices echo when they speak.

Other times, they’re very small.

It’s good to see which is the case for your trial.

Take a notebook

As you watch what happens, write down your observations.

It’s also good to get a feel for how things go in the courtroom.

Some judges are very strict, while others are very casual.

There are judges who will wear the black robes, have everyone stand when they walk into their courtroom, and announce themselves as “Judge Doe,” or whatever their name is.

Other judges will walk in without their black robes, will tell you to keep your seats, and say something like, “Hey, I’m Jack and I’m here to try your case for you.”

All of these examples are appropriate. 

One way or the other, it’s good for you to know how the judges handle their courtroom.

Watch what happens in these trials

The judge will call the docket, or list the cases, they’re trying.

As they go through this list, the lawyer for the debt collection company will raise their hand, and the person defending themselves will raise their hand, and the judge will ask if they’ve had a chance to talk with each other.

You need to know what to expect and what to do when the judge tells you that you can step out to talk to the lawyer.   You can find out more about what happens typically in this article/video about the overview of a collection case in Alabama.

Look at how the judge tries the case

Some judges will have you sit in a witness chair where you raise your hand and swear to tell the truth.

Other judges will just have you stand in front of them, swear you in, then you give your testimony right there.

There are different ways that cases are tried, and all of them are appropriate.

Make sure you go watch your judge.

Talk with us before your trial

You can set up an appointment with us by calling my office at 1-205-879-2447, or by filling out a contact form.

I will be more than happy to speak with you.

I’d highly recommend you reading the article about the 7 common mistakes people make, along with some other things we may send you.

This report is about 25 pages long.

After you’ve read the article and watched how trial usually goes with your judge, you’ll have your thoughts together and a list of questions that you may have.

That way, when we do have a conversation, we can focus on answering your specific questions.  And, as you can understand, there are things we will tell you that we don’t want to alert collection lawyers to in a public website or on a public video.  The collection industry reads our website and watches our videos (which is fine — we hope they help them!) but we don’t share publicly everything we know.

Feel free to contact us

Even if you’re still unsure whether you want to defend yourself or not, you can give us a call at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will happily get in touch with you.

I look forward to talking with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts


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