Checklist when you are sued by a debt collector in Alabama court
We decided to make a checklist available as we thought this would be helpful to you in deciding what to do with your debt collection lawsuit. NOTE: This is only for Alabama. Every other state is different and we only represent folks sued in Alabama.
Here are some of the things covered in this checklist:
- Who sued you?
- Which court?
- What is your case number?
- Have you been served?
- When were you served?
- When is your answer due?
- Do you have your credit reports?
- When was your last payment on the account?
- Are you more willing to spend time or money to deal with the lawsuit?
- How important is it for you to put this all behind you?
- Have you considered the extreme option of bankruptcy?
- Is this a lawsuit that you feel you can fight on your own?
- Do you want to settle this lawsuit without hiring a lawyer?
- Should you hire a lawyer to fight the lawsuit for you?
- How about hiring a lawyer to settle the lawsuit?
- Are you committed to taking immediate action?
- What is the action you will take right now?
You can download it by filling out the form here — you’ll get an email with the instructions on downloading the most up to date version of the checklist.
Who sued you?
This will be on the lawsuit also known as the “complaint” or “statement of claim”. Simply write down the name of who sued you.
Was it Midland Funding?
Whoever it is that sued you, write their name down.
This will be in a county and will be one of three choices for the type of court:
Small Claims Court
So your answer would be “Jefferson County Small Claims Court” or”Mobile District Court” or”Madison Circuit Court” etc.
What is your case number?
You should see this most likely in a little “stamp” or “sticker” in the upper right hand corner that will look something like this:
[DATE] — 11/01/2017 9:33 AM
01-SM-2017-90XXXXX.00 [This is your case number]
The “01” is the county (Jefferson).
The “SM” is Small Claims Court. DV is District Court. CV is Circuit Court.
“2017” is the year the case was filed.
“90XXXX.00” is the number. It always starts with 9. Then it just goes in order so the first case filed in the 2017 in Small Claims in Jefferson would be: 01-SM-2017-900001.00
It is important to know this number and to write it down so you can have it for whatever direction you go in your case.
Have you been served?
This is either yes or no and then you can put how you were served. If you have any doubts about this, you need to call the court or you can call us and we can help you think through this.
When were you served?
Put the exact date.
You’ll use this date to then figure out when your answer is due.
When is your answer due?
Take the service date and then add 14 days if Small Claims or District Court or 30 days if Circuit Court.
This is the due date of your answer.
If it falls on a holiday or weekend then you normally have until the next business day.
Check your summons you received to verify how long you have and then very carefully calculate the date on your own. If you miss this date, you can automatically lose by default judgment.
Do you have your credit reports?
Your credit reports will be very helpful to you so make sure you have pulled them.
When was your last payment on the account?
Use your best estimate on this. If you have bank statements to prove it, that is even better.
We look at this for statute of limitations purposes.
Are you more willing to spend time or money to deal with the lawsuit?
Some folks have money but not time. Others have time and not money.
You’ll need to spend one of these — time or money.
Time if you will handle this lawsuit on your own as you will be acting as your own lawyer.
Money if you are hiring a lawyer.
How important is it for you to put this all behind you?
Some people wrongly feel the lawsuit is no danger to them and don’t care to spend time or money. You would not still be reading this if that described you.
But decide how vital is it to put this behind you.
Now let’s look at your five options:
- Fight the lawsuit on your own
- Settle the lawsuit on your own
- Fight the lawsuit by hiring a lawyer
- Settle the lawsuit through a lawyer
Have you considered the extreme option of bankruptcy?
This is very rare that it is appropriate but occasionally someone needs to make this life-changing decision to deal with a collection lawsuit and a bunch of other debt.
Think through the consequences — financially, credit wise, and emotionally and make this is the best choice before you choose it.
Is this a lawsuit that you feel you can fight on your own?
Normally this is an option in Small Claims or District Court. It is not easy as you have to understand the rules of the game but it is possible.
This is best when you simply do not have the money to hire the right lawyer.
In Circuit Court defending yourself is almost impossible so we only advise considering this when in Small Claims or District Court.
Do you want to settle this lawsuit without hiring a lawyer?
Two ways to settle: lump sum or monthly payments.
Typically the lump sum is 60-80% of the amount sued for.
Monthly payments normally need to pay off 100% of the amount sued for in 2-3 years.
Couple of factors to make sure you have considered:
- What will happen to your credit reports?
- Will you get hit with taxes on the any amount of money that you “save” in the settlement?
- Are you required to enter into a “consent judgment” with the debt collector?
We find this is usually not the best option but if you decide to choose this option, make sure you are very clear in writing as to the settlement agreement and all details of what will happen to the lawsuit.
Should you hire a lawyer to fight the lawsuit for you?
We can discuss with you our fee. We do a very simple flat fee and we have a unique guarantee that we can discuss with you by phone.
This way you know exactly what it will cost to hire us (no hourly or “it might be more” etc) — no surprises. No changes. You will know the exact amount.
And we’ll talk to you about how in these cases we normally give the debt collector who sued you a choice to settle or fight . . . .
How about hiring a lawyer to settle the lawsuit?
Our settlements are very simple.
The debt collector drops the lawsuit with prejudice.
Debt collector account is removed from your credit report.
You pay nothing to the debt collector.
You agree not to sue the debt collector.
Again, we walk you through our process if you are interested.
Are you committed to taking immediate action?
It is fine to plan and ponder as long as you have time. But look at when your answer is due and make sure you are committed to taking action before it is too late.
What is the action you will take right now?
You simply write down the very next physical step you will take. Maybe it is to call us at 205-879-2447 to discuss your case. Whatever it is, make sure you are taking that action now.
Fill out the form below to get the checklist now….
We hope you find the checklist to be helpful and valuable and if we can ever help you, call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn.
If you download the checklist we will also check in with you — not to bother you but to make sure any questions you have are answered. Remember this is ONLY for Alabama lawsuits — if you are from a different state we hope it helps but we have no idea if it will. This checklist is based on handling hundreds and hundreds of Alabama collection lawsuits in all parts of Alabama with all the major collection lawfirms.