Will I Have to Appear In Court in a Debt Collection Lawsuit?

By: Robert J. Nahoum

A man in suit and tie with his arms crossed.

The Problem:

You’ve been served was a summons and complaint or discovered that you have a default judgment entered against you.  It’s a debt collector suing you on an old credit card or medical debt.  You’ve done your homework on the internet and realized that you can’t simply ignore the case as that will only make things worse.  One of the important questions you are now asking – will I have to go to court in my debt collection lawsuit?  The answer depends on whether you hire a lawyer or go it alone.

Hiring a lawyer to defend you in a debt collection lawsuit will inevitably better protect you than if you proceed self represented (called “pro seâ€).  However, hiring a lawyer sometimes isn’t possible and sometimes just doesn’t make any economic sense.  For example, when the lawyer will charge more than what the debt collector is trying to collect.

One of the many benefits to hiring a lawyer is that for almost all the court appearances, the lawyer goes to court instead of you.  This is particularly valuable if you have a hard time getting off work or if you don’t have any paid time off.

If you are a consumer who has hired a lawyer to defend you in a debt collection lawsuit, the only times you may have to go to court is if you are ordered to by the judge, subpoenaed by the debt collection attorney or if your lawyer needs you to testify as a witness.  For all other purposes, your lawyer should have you covered.

For those representing themselves in a debt collection lawsuit, you may have to go to court for a variety of reasons.  Anytime a motion is made, either by you or the debt collection attorney, you will need to go.  A motion is an application to the court seeking some form of relief.  For example, during the discovery stage of the case, you may ask a debt collector to produce a copy of the credit agreement they sued you on.  If the debt collector refuses to produce the agreement, you may want a judge to order them to produce it.  For this, you will need to make a motion and go to court.  Court appearances are also necessary for court conferences, mediations and trial.

A word of caution, for a variety of reasons court dates are routinely “adjournedâ€.  “Adjourned†simply means that the court date is put off to a later date.  Because court dates are so often adjourned, especially in the debt collection courts, motions can sometimes take 2, 3 and sometimes even more trips to the court.

If you’ve been sued in a debt collection lawsuit, consider whether hiring an attorney to defend you makes sense.  When you crunch the numbers, don’t forget to factor in time off from work to go to court.  If you decide hiring a lawyer is the right move, shop around for an experienced consumer lawyer and consider whether his or her fee arrangements suit your needs.

If you need help settling or defending a debt collection lawsuit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.

The Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum, P.C
(845) 232-0202