Getting sued for debt can be stressful and unfamiliar, but you can defend yourself even without legal training. This guide will show you how to file the proper documents to challenge the lawsuit against you and protect yourself from garnishment.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about responding to a debt collection lawsuit in Idaho. This includes important deadlines, the necessary forms and fees, and steps for drafting and filing your Answer. By understanding all this information, you’ll be in a much better position to protect your rights and interests.
Let’s get started.
Debt collection summonses in Idaho have a deadline for answering
The first step in any lawsuit is to file a Summons and Complaint. These documents must then be served on the person being sued. Once you have been served, you have limited time to respond.
Under Rule 12 of Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure, it states:
“(A) a defendant must serve an answer within 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint.”
In Idaho, you must file an Answer with the court within 21 days of being served the Summons and Complaint. There are several things to keep in mind:
- You have a limited time to respond once you are served with a Summons and Complaint. This time starts ticking when you receive a copy of the Complaint, not when you are served.
- The deadline for filing a court case is 21 days, counting weekends and non-business holidays. However, if the court is closed on the 21st day, the deadline becomes the next day it is open.
The consequences of missing a deadline can be dire. In most cases, a judge will not allow you to contest a lawsuit after the deadline has passed.
It’s essential to make sure you complete all deadlines regarding debt collection. Otherwise, the collector may be entitled to a default judgment. This could allow them to collect the total amount owed through wage garnishment or liens. So ensure you stay on top of things and keep all deadlines from slipping by.
use the Idaho Answer forms
To respond to the lawsuit, you must file a document called an “Answer.” When you are searching for forms or information online, it is essential to use the word “answer” instead of “reply” or “response.” These two words have different meanings in the legal world, so using the correct term could lead to clarity.
Idaho courts have some forms you can use to help you get started:
- Idaho courts forms
- Idaho Small Claims Answer form
Answers are filed for a fee in Idaho
To file an Answer in your case in an Idaho court, you must pay a mandatory statewide filing fee of $136. Pay this fee to ensure the court accepts your document.
No one should have to pay a fee to defend themselves, but unfortunately, that’s the reality in Idaho courts. You may get a fee waiver by filling out this form and proving financial hardship. There is a good chance the court will grant your request and allow you to file your Answer without paying the fee.
follow these steps to answer a summons
Idaho residents facing a debt lawsuit should be looking for a Summons and Complaint in the mail. These are two essential court documents that officially begin a lawsuit. The Summons will notify the individual of the case. At the same time, the Complaint will list the specific claims against them.
To win your lawsuit, you must first file a written Answer to respond to the Summons and Complaint. This will start your case and allow you to proceed with your claim.
These are three steps to follow when you Answer a debt collection lawsuit in Idaho:
- Respond to each claim listed in the complaint.
- Make your affirmative defenses clear.
- Prepare the Answer and serve it on the plaintiff.
1. Respond to each claim listed in the complaint
Your Answer document should address each numbered claim made in the Complaint document. For each claim, provide a response explaining why it is not valid or accurate.
You have to create a list of responses corresponding to the numbered claims from the Complaint. The court will interpret it as an admission if you fail to respond. You should reply to everything listed in the Complaint with one of these three responses:
- Admit—this is like saying, “This is true.”
- Deny—this is like saying, “Prove it.”
- Deny due to lack of knowledge is like saying, “I don’t know.”
Most attorneys recommend refuting as many claims as possible. This will give you a stronger case, as it compels the other party to substantiate their allegations.
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Remember, admitting a claim in your Answer may prevent you from denying it later. It is not against the rules to negate every paragraph, but you should agree to claims you know to be true. Make sure to complete all paragraphs; each numbered section should have a response.
2. Make your affirmative defenses clear
You may want to do more than deny the Complaint’s claims. You may have a legal defense against the allegations being made. After listing your responses, you can add a section where you assert your affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is why the person suing you doesn’t have a case.
Rule 8(c) of Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure outlines some of the affirmative defenses you can assert in a civil lawsuit:
“(1) In General. In responding to a pleading, a party must affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative defense, including:
(A) accord and satisfaction;
(B) arbitration and award;
(C) assumption of risk;
(D) contributory or comparative responsibility;
(G) failure of consideration;
(J) injury by fellow servant;
(O) res judicata;
(P) statute of frauds;
(Q) statute of limitations;
(R) waiver; and
(S) discharge in bankruptcy.”
There are several affirmative defenses you can raise in your Answer document. Some of the more common ones we see in debt collection lawsuits include the following:
- I already paid that debt. This is called satisfaction. Satisfaction comes from taking care of obligations. It would help to tell the judge that you have already paid off what you owe. Later on, you will have to show evidence, but for now, it is enough to make a claim.
- You have the wrong person. It would help if you denied the paragraphs in the Complaint where it said you owed money and hadn’t paid. By doing this, you would have let the judge know that they had the wrong person.
- The amount needs to be corrected. You may find yourself in a situation where you owe someone money, but the amount they claim you owe is incorrect. This could be due to a miscalculation or because they have added fees and interest to the balance. Suppose you did not agree to pay these additional charges. In that case, you can dispute the amount by denying the paragraph in the Complaint that states how much the debt is for.
- The debt is old. After a debt has been incurred, a significant amount of time may be before a suit is filed against the debtor. In this case, asserting a statute of limitations defense is essential. The statute of limitations varies from state to state. Still, in Idaho, the limit is five years for written contracts or four years for oral agreements.
Many affirmative defenses can be used in debt cases. However, simply being unable to pay the debt is not usually a legal defense. Before going to court, you should be aware of all possible reasons that could apply to your case.
3. Prepare the Answer and serve it on the plaintiff
You’re almost done crafting your response to the other side’s claims. The next step is to file your Answer. Here’s what you need to do:
- Print three copies of the Answer.
- File a copy with the court.
- Send a copy to the other side’s attorney.
- Keep a copy for yourself.
Statute of limitations on debts in Idaho
Debt collectors and creditors have limited time to sue someone for a debt, as governed by the statute of limitations. This law protects consumers by ensuring that old debts cannot be returned to haunt them.
According to Idaho Statutes, §5-217 states:
ACTION ON ORAL CONTRACT. Within four (4) years:
An action upon a contract, obligation or liability not founded upon an instrument of writing.”
In Idaho, the statute of limitations for oral contracts is four years. So, credit card debt can only be taken to court within four years of the last payment. After that time, creditors cannot sue for the debt.
On the other hand, §5-216 states:
“ACTION ON WRITTEN CONTRACT. Within five (5) years:
An action upon any contract, obligation or liability founded upon an instrument in writing.”
For written contracts is five years. So for any warranty that is in writing, debt collectors and creditors only have five years from the last activity on the account to sue.
Knowing the statute of limitations on debt before agreeing to make any payments is essential, as restarting expenses can reset the clock. This is especially important to keep in mind with old debts. Inactive accounts are those where no cost has been made, and no payment agreement or plan is in place. So always check the statute of limitations on debt before making any payment.
Even though an expired statute of limitations won’t stop a creditor or debt collector from suing you, it can be used as an affirmative defense. This is the only way to get out of a lawsuit and avoid having to pay the debt. So, it’s essential to be aware of the debt timeline and use the statute of limitations to your advantage.
Locations of Idaho courts for debt collection lawsuits
It’s essential to stay up-to-date on the status of your court case after filing an Answer. The best way to do this is by calling the court clerk or visiting the courthouse.
A legal aid organization in Idaho may be able to assist you
Idaho offers free legal services through government-funded organizations. You can learn more about how to get legal aid in Idaho below.
Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc.
1447 S. Tyrell Lane
Boise, ID 83706
ILF Volunteer Lawyers Program
525 W. Jefferson Street
Boise, ID 83702
After you file your Idaho Summons Answer, what happens?
The next step in the lawsuit is to set a hearing to establish a schedule and deadlines for the rest of the proceeding. Be on the lookout for a scheduling order or hearing notice in the mail. The initial “hearing” is often a phone call to coordinate schedules with everyone on the line.
Some debt collectors may choose to drop a case after receiving an Answer. In this instance, you would not have to attend any hearings.
If I am unable to pay, what should I do?
Filing for bankruptcy may seem like the easy way out when you’re struggling to pay off debt. Still, it’s essential to understand the long-term implications of this decision. Although bankruptcy will put a hold on debt collection, you can still have to pay back the debt.
Idaho debt collection laws can protect you from sketchy debt collectors
You have rights when you’re dealing with debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has rules that these collectors must follow when contacting you about a debt. They’re not allowed to:
- Contacting you multiple times per day.
- Contacting you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Contacting you after receiving a cease-and-desist notice.
- Getting your family, friends, or coworkers regarding your debt.
- Refusing to provide validation for your debt.
Debt collectors may use a variety of methods to collect on debts. Some of these methods may be illegal. You can report unlawful debt collection practices to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). To file a complaint with the FTC, visit their website or call 877-382-4357.
What you need to know
So, in short, here’s the review on how to Answer a Summons for debt collection in Idaho.
- You have 21 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Idaho.
- Idaho courts charge an Answer filing fee of $136.
- Follow these steps to make and file your Answer: 1) Answer each claim listed in the Complaint, 2) Assert your affirmative defenses, and 3) File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.
- The statute of limitations on credit card debt in Idaho is four years.
- Idaho has legal aid organizations that can assist you.
We hope this guide has been helpful. Good luck!