You owe money and had hoped to pay it off, but then you are hit with a summons from a creditor stating they are filing a lawsuit against you. The chances are you feel fear, and rightfully so. Should the creditor who files a lawsuit obtain a judgment against you, you will be faced with unpleasant consequences, which could include garnishment of wages, freezing of your bank account, and liens placed against your property. And if you lose the lawsuit, you will be faced with aggressive collection actions, including seizure of your assets.
The good news is that there is still hope even if you are being sued. The experienced and compassionate debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer can help if you have received threats of a lawsuit or even if a civil lawsuit is already pending against you. We provide a free initial consultation to analyze the facts of your case and offer advice on how we can best protect you.
What Happens With Lawsuits in Ohio?
If you are a served with a lawsuit in the State of Ohio, you must figure out what you’re going to do quickly, as you have just 28 days to respond to a lawsuit. The creditor will allege that you (the defendant) are in default, and the creditor will request a judgment in an amount that it believes you owe.
The summons and complaint are typically served by certified mail to your last known address. You must respond in writing, and you must send your answer to both the opposing counsel and to the court for filing in the record. If you respond incorrectly, the creditor may ask for a Summary Judgment against you.
It makes sense for you to have an attorney to examine your possible defenses and make sure that you have responded properly. An experienced lawyer will help you determine the proper course of action, make sure the creditor provides proper evidence, and try to keep unsubstantiated evidence out of court.
If you don’t respond to the lawsuit, the creditor will then request a default judgment against you. Once a creditor has received a judgment, they can garnish 25 percent of your non-exempt wages, seize cash in your bank accounts, and the creditor can also put a lien against your personal property.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Lawsuits
Bankruptcy is an important tool in the fight to stop lawsuits. If you are an Ohio resident and you file for individual bankruptcy through chapter 7 or chapter 13, there is an automatic stay provision of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that stops pending lawsuits and collection efforts. Creditors do not have to drop their lawsuits, but the legal process must stop until the bankruptcy is over or until they get permission from the bankruptcy court to continue the suit. They must stop trying to collect the debt, and they also must stop calling you and harassing you. They cannot garnish your bank account or wages, put liens on your property, or repossess your vehicle. During the bankruptcy proceeding, all pending lawsuits are stayed.
However, this stay is only temporary until the bankruptcy is resolved. While there are debts that will be entirely discharged by a bankruptcy, including credit card bills, medical bills, utility bills, payday loans or personal loans, be aware that there are certain types of debts you will still have to pay. These include:
- Debts for personal injury or death caused by driving while intoxicated
- Student loans, unless it would be an undue hardship for you to repay
- Fines and penalties for violating the law, including traffic tickets and criminal restitution
- Recent income tax debts (within 3 years) and most other tax debts
- Debts you forget to list in your bankruptcy papers, unless the creditor learns of your bankruptcy
- Debts you owe under a divorce decree or settlement, including child support
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, only debts that arose before the date of your order for relief will be discharged.
Contact Us and Get Help
If you are faced with a lawsuit, an attorney can make a big difference in how your case is handled and how much you end up owing. The seasoned debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer will evaluate your entire financial situation by looking at your income, your debts and your goals, and we will discuss the best fit for your financial situation. We will make sure you are aware of all your options and help you decide on the path to a brighter future that makes sense in your individual case. We understand what you are going through and will walk you through the process.
Time is of the essence, and delaying can only worsen your situation, so call the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today! Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email for your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.