“Why should I file an answer in my debt collection lawsuit before I’m served?”

Answer your lawsuit with debt collectors before you're servedIn Alabama, courts are flooded with one debt collection lawsuit after another (sometimes hundreds per week) from various debt collectors.

Normally, people wait until they’re served, or until their time is almost out, to file their answer.

We encourage consumers to file their answer before they’re served.

You may be thinking, “Why in the world would I file it before I’m served?”

Our reasoning is that filing your answer as early as possible removes the danger of getting a default judgment against you.

Typically when collection lawyers file a complaint, they won’t let the lawsuit go away because they can’t find you at first.

They will serve you at your new address, work, or wherever they need to.

It’s highly unlikely that they will give up easily.

Even if they did give up, they would most likely just sue you again.

Or it could be that the court thinks you’ve been served, when in reality you haven’t been served, and the court enters a default judgment against you.

Waiting to file your answer is either delaying the inevitable, running the risk of being sued again, or having the court think you’ve been served when you actually haven’t been served.

Every situation is different, but usually the best option is to file your answer as soon as possible.

Just like the story of David and Goliath in the Bible, debt collectors expect you to run away when they sue you.

Often times, we will remind consumers of the story of David and Goliath, which is found in 1 Samuel 17.

David is willing to go against this giant named Goliath, who has heavy armor and heavy weapons.

All David has is a sling and 5 stones. 

In the text, the Bible says that Goliath was moving towards David, which makes sense.

If it were me, I would probably be thinking, “Okay, I’ve got a sling that works from a distance, so I’m going to stay as far back as I possibly can.”

However, David does something unusual.

In the text it says that he ran quickly towards Goliath. 

If I’m Goliath, I’ve got my full armor, and I see a small man running towards me with no armor or large weapons, the thought most likely would cross my mind that this isn’t normal.

This young guy should be running away from me and I should be chasing him.

Not him running towards me.

We find out that things didn’t end well for Goliath.

We use this illustration to show consumers that, just like Goliath, debt collectors will assume that you will run away from them.

They expect you to be scared. 

Be a David.

Face the lawsuit head on by filing your answer before you’re served.

Answer the door.

Take the summons.

Do what you can to take care of this immediately.

If you take care of your answer before you’re served, that will get the debt collector’s attention.

This shows the debt collectors that you are ready to fight, and that you’re ready get the case to trial.

Answer your lawsuit before you’re served, and definitely answer within the time limit given, which is 14 days in Small Claims and District Court.

The time limit for Circuit Court is 30 days.

We want to go to trial, so we can win our case and then sue the debt collectors.

Contact Us.

If you live in the state of Alabama and you have any questions, you can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.

You can also fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts

PS — If you are interested, you may want to read (or watch) a detailed review of your five options when sued.


  1. Audrey says:

    I’ve been reading several pages on your wonderful website (thank you!!!) because today I received a ‘Ferry and Nicholas’ letter (no I won’t be calling them), and so I guess Midland is suing me for $1000 for alleged debt. I live in Mobile and intend to fight this on my own. So, as for the ‘file answer before served’ concept, I’m on board with the ‘why,’ but don’t understand the who-what-how parts. In other words, WHAT am I to answer if I haven’t been served anything, HOW do I answer without knowing the specific accusations, and to WHOM do I send the answer?
    Thanks in advance. Your website has taken me down from a panic attack to confident eagerness to be done with Midland finally.

    • John Watts says:


      Thank you for your kind words. I have emailed you directly so we can chat or call my office at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she can set us a time to chat by phone to answer your questions.

      Here are some general thoughts though….

      1. WHAT TO ANSWER — you need to see the lawsuit. We can pull it off the online computer system (AlaCourt) and send you a copy in PDF.

      2. HOW TO ANSWER — once you see the lawsuit, you’ll know the details. Again we can chat about this.

      3. WHO TO SEND ANSWER TO — this is the lawyer suing you. Probably it is the Holloway & Moxley lawfirm out of Montgomery but occasionally it will be Scott & Associates out of Texas (Montgomery, Alabama office).

      Call us at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be glad to help you think through your options and answer any questions you have.


      John Watts

  2. Bruce says:

    I have also received the Ferry and Nicholas letter and was happy to find your website. It is reassuring that you put out so much free information to help people in this situation. Although my debt amount may not warrant hiring you, I am very thankful for all the information you provided on your site. I would still like to contact you to see what the best plan of action would be. Depending on your fees, I may be interested in hiring you to handle the case for me.

    • John Watts says:


      Thank you for your kind comment. Give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn. She can look up your case and set up a call between us. Be happy to go over your options with you — likely a good option is handling this on your own and we can share some resources and strategies with you (for free) to do this.

      Talk to you soon!

      John Watts
      205-879-2447 (ask for Carolyn)

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