If you were sued on a debt you have 30 days from the date you are served the paperwork to file a written response with the Clerk of the Court.
- You have 30 days to respond.
- The response must be written
- The response must be filed with the Clerk of the Court.
How do you respond? What form do you use?
Here is a link to the Answer and General Denial form provided by the Nebraska court system.
The form is very simple. Enter the following information:
- State whether you were sued in “County” or in “District” court. (In most cases this is County court.)
- The name of the County.
- Name of the Plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit).
- Name of the Defendant (your name).
- Case Number (for example: CI 23-1234)
- Sign the form at the bottom
- Enter your address, phone number and email address.
That’s it. You don’t have to write an essay of why you do not owe the debt. You do not have to explain that Amazon mailed you the wrong color sweater or that the doctor amputated the wrong toe.
This court form is a “General Denial.” You hereby dispute the debt. It does not matter why you are denying the debt.
Of course, it may matter to you. And if the doctor amputated the wrong toe you can certainly add that information, but you don’t have to. That big empty space in the middle of the form that seems to invite you to tell your life story and all the wrongs the Plaintiff committed is optional.
If you have an affirmative defense, you do need to state that in the response. For example, if the debt collector is suing on an expired debt, you will want to assert a Statute of Limitations defense. If you don’t assert the defense in writing it is lost.
What happens after you respond to a lawsuit?
The plaintiff’s attorney will typically request additional information from you (called Discovery) or they will schedule the matter for a Summary Judgment hearing.
Filing the written answer has prevented a Default Judgment from being entered, but it does not resolve the lawsuit. There is work to be done. Start contacting the plaintiff’s attorney. Request a payment plan if that is your goal. Offer a settlement of the debt. Get a conversation going.
If you are disputing the debt entirely, now you need to prove your case. Start gathering evidence. Demand documents (Motion to Produce Documents). Send written questions to the plaintiff’s attorney (Interrogatories). Schedule a deposition (live questions before court reporter) of the opposing side. Gather the facts to submit to the judge at a hearing.