Being “Served” With A Collection Lawsuit

Service Of The Summons And Complaint

What Is A Summons?

A Summons is a written legal notice that is served along with the Complaint and provides the Debtor Defendant with clear and specific instructions concerning what procedures and actions must be followed including how to file and within what time period you must file and serve a written response. The written response is called the Answer.

If you live in a rural area, you are more likely to get some help on how to proceed by visiting the county clerks office. Big cities are usually terribly understaffed and the courts clerks and administrators rarely have the time to answer questions. They are more likely to tell you to call your County Bar Association and obtain the advise of a lawyer.

Service Of The Summons

Each state has its own laws regarding what constitutes lawful service of a Summons and Complaint. These laws are strictly construed and enforced in favor of the defendant.

The Summons and Complaint must provide the defendant with proper and sufficient “Notice” of plaintiff’s legal claims. In fact, some states still require that a Summons and Complaint be served on the defendant by a police officer. The law favors Personal Service, which means the defendant is actually handed the lawsuit personally. In most states, dropping the Summons and Complaint on the defendant’s doorstep is not considered lawful service.

Substituted Service

Most state do allow for “substituted service” which requires that a number of actions occur before a court will consider the service valid. These may include all or some of these obligations: proof of numerous attempted service by sworn declaration, the mailing of the Summons and Complaint to the Debtor-Defendants last known legal address, serving a member of the household of the Debtor-Defendant, attaching the Summon and Complaint to the residence door, and publishing Notice Of Summons in a newspaper of general circulation in the geographical area plaintiff is last known to have resided.

If the Debtor-Defendant still does not Answer the complaint within a specific time after Service has been made, the Debtor-Defendant, assuming that the Plaintiff has strictly complied with all of the specific state requirements of substituted service, will deem the Debtor-Defendant in default. This will allow the Plaintiff-Creditor to obtain a default judgment against the Defendant.


If you are personally served with a lawsuit, the last thing you want to do is not respond. The collection agency will proceed to take a default judgment against you. It requires a simple hearing to prove-up a default claim. The collection lawyer usually sets them on a date in which he can obtain numerous defaults on numerous collection cases.

Responding To Service Of Summons and Complaint >>>




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