There’s a knock on the door. You open the door to find a person there that hands you a stack of papers with a summons on top. You have just been served a lawsuit.
A lawsuit is a legal proceeding between two parties in a court of law. But, now what. The summons, which is the first page of a lawsuit, will tell you who has filed the suit and when and where court will be held. The next several pages will include the petition, and that will tell you what the lawsuit is about. Often, lawsuits are filed as an attempt to collect a debt. If this has happened to you, it is probable time to talk to an attorney.
An attorney can go over your options with you and answer any questions about the lawsuit process and associated deadlines. It is important to understand the process because if you miss a deadline, you may end up with a judgment against you. A judgment is a Order from the court that may state that you owe another party money. A judgment may allow another party to garnish your wages, freeze your bank account or take money that would otherwise go to you. A judgment is a powerful way for a creditor to collect a debt.
A judgment can also become a judgment lien. Anytime a lawsuit is filed and it becomes a judgment, that judgment can become a lien against your real estate including your home. If you have a judgment lien on your home or other real estate, you will not be able to sell or refinance your property without paying off that loan.
So, a simple knock of the door can turn into big trouble without the right help. It’s important to know your rights when it comes to a lawsuit and know what steps to take in order to avoid a judgment against you.