In North Carolina you generally only have 30 days to file a written Answer with the Court after you have been served. In Small Claims Court, no written Answer is required, but the actual hearing is often in a week or less. Failure to file a written Answer often results in the Judgment against you without there even being a hearing date. When served with a lawsuit filed in District or Superior Court there is no Court date listed on the paperwork. This confuses many people who assume they just need to wait for that date to appear in the mail. They fail to realize that Court date may never happen because failure to file a written Answer with the Court denying the debt results in a Default Judgment without a hearing. NEVER Ignore a lawsuit...
What to do after being sued
Identify if you have been sued in Small Claims, District or Superior Court and in what County.
If filed in Small Claims Court there should be a hearing date on the paperwork. Make sure you attend Court ready to defend yourself with all evidence and witnesses.
If sued in District or Superior Court make sure you file a written Answer or file a written extension of time to Answer within 30 days of service.
When preparing an Answer be sure your Answer is not simply a “hardship letter” explaining you lost your job and need time to pay. That kind of Answer is nothing more than an admission of the debt, that will likely result in a Default Judgment.
Make sure your Answer denies the debt and raises any defenses such as Statute of Limitations or else those defenses are waived.
Although a properly filed Answer denying the debt should avoid a default judgment, the usual next step of debt collectors is to send you a giant packet of discovery asking you to admit the debt.
Another favorite trick of debt collectors is a Motion for Summary Judgment, which also requires a written answer with the Court raising SPECIFIC reasons why you do not owe the money. Make sure you educate yourself on local Court rules or else you are likely to lose on some technicality.
Understand legal counsel is often a necessity to avoid losing on a technicality.