Debt lawsuits are never fun, but this article will help make responding to one a little easier. You’ll find helpful topics on how to answer a debt collection lawsuit in Colorado, including information on state deadlines, forms, and filing fees.
Prepare a response to the lawsuit before the deadline
The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(a)(1) states:
“A defendant shall file his answer or other response within 21 days after the service of the summons and complaint.”
You have a limited time to respond to a debt collection lawsuit filed against you in Colorado. The 21-day period begins after you have been served with the court documents, which include the Summons and Complaint.
You could face a default judgment and wage garnishment from debt collectors if you don’t respond to the lawsuit within the deadline. Your property could also be seized. Don’t let this happen; take action now.
The importance of responding to debt collection lawsuits before the deadline cannot be overstated.
Answer To Summons Forms In Colorado
One way to respond to a debt collection lawsuit is by filling out an Answer form. This can be done easily and quickly and may be less stressful than other methods. There are tools available on Colorado’s judicial branch website that can help walk you through this process.
Answers filed in Colorado are subject to a fee
Different states have different filing fees for Answers, and Colorado is one of them.
You will need to pay a filing fee in Colorado for the court to accept and file your Answer. Without paying the price, the court will reject your Answer.
Here are Colorado’s civil filing fees:
- The Answer filing fee is $80 if your case involves less than $1,000.
- The Answer filing fee is $100 if your case involves $1,000-$14,999.99.
- The Answer filing fee is $130 if your case involves $15,000-$25,000.
- The Answer filing fee is $192 if your case involves more than $25,000.
There is no need to worry about not being able to afford the Answer filing fee. You can always request that the court waive your fees by filing a JDF 202 form.
Respond to a debt collection case in Colorado by following these steps
The first step in a lawsuit is for the debt collector, known as the plaintiff, to serve you with two documents. These are called Summons and Complaint. The Summons notifies you of the case, while the Complaint lists the specific allegations being made against you.
You have 21 days to respond to a complaint filed against you by drafting and filing an Answer document. Here are three steps that can help you:
- Respond to each Complaint allegation.
- Make your affirmative defenses known.
- File the Answer document with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff.
1. Respond to each complaint Allegation
Answering a complaint can be daunting, but with these steps, it will be a breeze.
Find the numbered list of allegations in the Complaint and decide how you want to respond to each one. You should list your responses in a corresponding, numbered list.
There are three ways you can answer each allegation:
- Admit: this means “This is true.”
- Deny: this means “Prove it.”
- Deny due to lack of knowledge: this means “I don’t know.”
It is common for attorneys to recommend that their clients make a general denial in response to a complaint. This entails denying all allegations against them and forcing the other party to prove each one.
3. Make your affirmative defenses known
You’re almost done with your Answer document! The following section is where you’ll assert your affirmative defenses. An “affirmative defense” is why the person suing doesn’t have a case. So you will explain why the lawsuit against you isn’t valid.
More specifically, Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8(c) states:
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“In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, contributory negligence, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense. Any mitigating circumstances to reduce the amount of damage shall be affirmatively pleaded.”
There are several reasons why the debt collector or creditor suing you may not be successful. You can affirmatively state these in your Answer document. Some common affirmative defenses used in debt collection cases include:
- The account with the debt is not your account.
- The contract was already canceled. Therefore you don’t owe the creditor anything.
- After six years, you can no longer be sued for a debt based on a contract. This is because there is a statute of limitations in place which sets this deadline. Therefore, any action must be taken within this time frame, or it will become invalid.
- The debt has been paid or excused.
- The debt has been partially paid.
- You were a co-signer but were not informed of your rights as a co-signer.
Not being able to pay the debt is not a valid affirmative defense. This means that, even though someone may not be able to pay back what they owe, they cannot use that as an excuse to get out of the debt. Other defenses can be used in court, but not being able to pay is not one of them.
3. The Answer should be filed with the court and a copy sent to the plaintiff
It may seem hard to believe, but many people get this far and never actually file their Answer. Don’t be one of those people. Take the next step and file your Answer today.
Here’s what you need to do to file your Answer properly:
- Print two copies of your Answer.
- Mail one copy to the court.
- Mail the other copy to the plaintiff’s attorney (also known as the attorney representing the person or company suing you).
You have 21 days to file an Answer to your Summons and Complaint, which you should have received in the mail. Remember, both addresses should be in your Summons and Complaint.
What To Do If You Haven’t Been Sued Yet
You may wonder what to do after receiving a collections notice. The best way to respond in this situation is by sending a Debt Validation Letter. This letter notifies the collector that you dispute the debt and requires them to prove that you owe it.
They can only call you or continue collecting once they provide validation of the debt. This flowchart shows how you can use a Debt Validation Letter to win.
Check Colorado’s debt statute of limitations
You should always check the statute of limitations on your debt before agreeing to make any payments to a debt collector. This way, you can ensure that you are not inadvertently reviving an old debt that is no longer legally enforceable.
There is a time limit for how long a debt collector or creditor can sue someone for a debt they owe. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. It starts on the date of your last payment on an account. So, even though a debt collector may contact you about an old debt, as long as you make payments on it, they can’t sue you because the statute of limitations would have restarted.
The statute of limitations is different in every state. According to Colorado law, CO Rev Stat § 13-80-101 states:
“(1) The following civil actions, regardless of the theory upon which suit is brought, or against whom suit is brought, shall be commenced within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not thereafter:
(a) All contract actions, including personal contracts and actions under the “Uniform Commercial Code”, except as otherwise provided in section 13-80-103.5.”
This means that Colorado debt collectors have a limited time frame to sue you for credit card debt.
Similarly, CO Rev Stat § 13-80-103.5 states:
“(1) The following actions shall be commenced within six years after the cause of action accrues and not thereafter:
(a) All actions to recover a liquidated debt or an unliquidated, determinable amount of money due to the person bringing the action, all actions for the enforcement of rights set forth in any instrument securing the payment of or evidencing any debt, and all actions of replevin to recover the possession of personal property encumbered under any instrument securing any debt; except that actions to recover pursuant to section 38-35-124.5 (3), C.R.S., shall be commenced within one year;
(b) All actions for arrears of rent;”
This means you cannot be sued for a rental debt that is more than six years old.
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Make use of Colorado’s legal aid organizations
Many legal aid organizations in Colorado can help people who cannot or do not want to hire a lawyer and are representing themselves. Here are some of the prominent ones:
Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado
1120 Lincoln St., Suite 701
Denver, CO 80203
Colorado Legal Services
This organization has several locations throughout the state
Court locations in Colorado
No need to feel uncomfortable about sending your court documents over e-file. You can always visit your courthouse and file in person, which may be a more comfortable option. To find the address of your courthouse, use the Colorado Courts Directory tool.
It is essential to know the location of your local courthouse to be prepared for any legal proceedings you may have, as well as to stay up-to-date on the status of your case.
What you need to know
Here’s a quick review of how to Answer a Summons for debt collection proceedings in Colorado.
- The deadline to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Colorado is 21 days.
- Different courts in the state charge different fees for filing an Answer. The amount charged ranges from $80 to $192, depending on the type of case.
- File the Answer in the court before the deadline, and send a copy to the opposing attorney.
- The statute of limitations on credit card debt is three years in Colorado.