After a debt buyer has decided to sue you, and in fact has sued you, then the debt buyer will have the court serve you with a copy of the suit. This can be done by the sheriff handing you a copy of the suit or sending it by certified mail or by a private “process server” giving it to you.
Once you have been served, the clock starts running to answer the case so you won’t be held in default and automatically lose the case. In small claims and district court (where most collection cases are filed) you normally have 14 days to answer.
It is important to not try to “duck” or “dodge” service – you may think you have avoided service but you may in fact be considered to have been served. Therefore, you may not know that the time is already running. If you know you have been sued, we recommend facing the issue head on. Get the lawsuit and then file your answer and make the debt buyer prove that it owns the debt and that you owe it for the debt. Rarely will the debt buyer be able to do these two things that it must do to win the case.
Next, we will address what we typically put in Answers to collection cases in Alabama.
As an update (May 25, 2009), we wanted to add a video we did about the importance of answering and the time limits to answer:
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