If you owe money in Columbus Ohio or central Ohio, you are bound to be upset if you are hit with a lawsuit from a creditor. You may worry about losing your home, having your bank account emptied, or having your employer notified . . . and rightfully so. If that creditor is awarded a judgment against you, you will be faced with unpleasant consequences that may include seizure of your assets, garnishment of wages, freezing of your bank account, and liens placed against your property.
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 if You are Sued in Columbus?
If you have not been paying your creditors, they may choose to file a civil lawsuit against you in the county court. Since Ohio is a “general pleading state,” the creditor only needs to provide a general allegation of the debt dispute to start the legal process. The creditor will tell the court that you are in default and request a judgment in the amount owed. Then you will be served with a copy of the summons and complaint, usually by certified mail.
The complaint will state why the debtor is suing you and what relief is sought, and it will state what court has jurisdiction. The summons will list the names and addresses of the court, the parties to the lawsuit, and state the date by which you have to respond.
When you receive the summons, you have just 28 days to respond with an “answer.” You must respond in writing and send your answer to both the opposing counsel and to the court for filing. The court will then issue a schedule of events for your case, such as a Pre-Trial Status Conference and dates by which motions must be filed.
If you make a mistake and do not respond correctly or in a timely manner, the creditor may ask for a default or summary judgment against you, which gives the creditor what was asked for. Once there is such a judgment, the creditor may pursue collection efforts which include garnishments of 25 percent of your non-exempt wages, seizing cash in your bank accounts, and putting liens on your property.
Since the consequences are so severe, it makes sense for you to review your options with an attorney and discuss hiring this attorney to represent you in this matter. The seasoned Columbus attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer will help you determine the best course of action for you. We will discuss debt settlement and negotiation as well as the option you have of filing for bankruptcy, which will stop pending lawsuits and collection efforts against you.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Lawsuits
Bankruptcy is an important tool in the fight to stop lawsuits. If you are a Columbus, Ohio, resident and you file for individual bankruptcy through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, it starts the automatic stay provision of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Your attorney will file a document called a Suggestion of Stay for each lawsuit with the Columbus Clerk of Court and notify the creditor’s attorney that a bankruptcy case has been filed. This enables lawsuits to be “stayed” or stopped during the bankruptcy proceedings, and your debt will now fall under federal bankruptcy laws. Your 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.
This means creditors must stop trying to collect the debt and stop calling you and harassing you. They cannot garnish your bank account or wages, put liens on your property, or repossess your vehicle. If they continue to try to collect from or harass you while your bankruptcy case is pending, you must notify your attorney immediately. Federal Bankruptcy Judges do not allow violations of the automatic stay provision and may impose sanctions upon violating creditors.
Your stay is in effect 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 in Columbus, Ohio, an attorney can make a big difference in how your case is handled and how much you end up owing. The experienced Columbus 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.