It can be very intimidating to be served with a lawsuit by a creditor here in New Jersey. It is a court document that can have serious consequences. But knowing more about the process and how it works can reduce some of the stress and help you to know what you have to do next. So, here is what is happening when you get that document in the mail or have it handed to you by a court officer.
Filing the Complaint: The Claim to Be Paid
First, the creditor files a document with the cont called a "Complaint." This sets forth the basis for its claim for money due. As New Jersey is a "notice pleadings" state, it is presumed that you know who the creditor is, why it is your creditor, and in general why you owe it money. There are usually not a lot of details given.
This can be a bit confusing when the plaintiff (person or entity suing you) is not the original creditor because the plaintiff is a "factor" and bought the debt from someone else. This may raise some defenses, so if you get a Complaint, and you do not recognize the plaintiff, you should contact the lawyer for the creditor and see who the original debt holder was.
Serving the Complaint
The Complaint is sent to you with another document called a "Summons," which sets forth where the Complaint is to be served upon you and instructions on what you must do if you wish to contest the claim.
This involves a written response (called an "Answer") sent to the court and the Plaintiff within 35 days of your receipt of the Summons and Complaint. If you think you might have a defense, you need to consult with a lawyer right away.
The Summons and Complaint can be served personally or by certified and regular mail. Do not think that not accepting the certified copy will prevent them from serving you; if the regular mail goes through, it is considered served, and the 35 day clock will start ticking.
So What Do I Do?
Want more information on the collection process, lawsuits, and how you can fight back with your creditors?Then download my free book, The Biggest Secrets Your Creditors Don't Want You to Know. Become empowered and protect your rights!
If you live in southern New Jersey and want a lawyer to represent you against your creditors, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment tin my Woodbury office. I have represented creditors for many years and am familiar with the collection industry and how it ticks. Put my experience to work for you!
If your debt situation goes beyond one or two creditors, however, and you are wondering whether you need a solution to a bigger problem, then download my free book, Am I In Too Deep? A Guide to Knowing When You Need to File Bankruptcy in New Jersey to find out if bankruptcy might be the solution.