If you live in Dayton, Ohio, and you are hit by a lawsuit because you owe money, your first reaction is probably fear — and with good reason. If you lose the lawsuit and your creditors are granted a judgment, you face unpleasant consequences that can include the garnishment of 25 percent of your non-exempt wages, the seizure of your assets and cash in your bank accounts, and losing or having liens placed against your personal property.
Fortunately, there are things a Dayton resident can do to stop lawsuits. 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 When You Receive a Lawsuit?
The notice of lawsuit you receive is called a summons. When you get a summons, you need to act fast, as you have just 28 days to file what is called an answer in response to the suit.
The answer is a written response to the complaint filed against you, and it must be sent to both the creditor’s attorney and to the court for filing in the record. If you don’t respond at all or if you respond incorrectly, the creditor may ask for a Summary Judgment against you. This is a default judgment that allows creditors to go ahead with garnishing your wages and seizing or putting liens against your personal property.
What are Options to Stop Lawsuits?
Your options to stop lawsuits in Dayton depend on your individual facts and circumstances. An experienced lawyer will make sure the creditor provides proper evidence, try to keep unsubstantiated evidence out of court, and help determine your best course of action. That is why it makes sense for you to have an attorney examine your possible defenses and make sure you choose the correct option.
- Paying what you owe. If you know you owe the debt and are able to pay it, doing so will stop the lawsuit.
- Requesting an extension of more time to pay. You may be able to negotiate a time extension or a payment plan with your creditors, especially if the creditors think the alternative is having you file for bankruptcy, in which case they may wind up with nothing.
- Fighting the lawsuit in court. It is common for creditors to sell your debt to other companies, so that you may not even recognize where the debt originated. Mistakes can be made; creditors may not even be suing the right person, or they may not have correct paperwork regarding the debt. If the party suing you does not have supporting documents and a copy of your contract and payment record, there’s a good chance an experienced lawyer can help you win a lawsuit or settle it favorably.
- Filing for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Lawsuits
Many judgments and creditor liens can be eliminated by filing for bankruptcy. If you live in Dayton 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.
- 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.
There are some gray areas where the dischargeability depends on the circumstances. Examples include some criminal charges, fines and restitutions; civil judgments that may not be caused by willful actions, and property liens that may be eliminated if you don’t want to keep the property. A good bankruptcy attorney will help sort out your dischargeable and nondischargeable debts to determine if bankruptcy is right for you.
Contact Us and Get Help
If you are faced with a lawsuit in Dayton, 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.