It can be tempting to ignore debts we cannot pay or believe we do not owe, especially when a debt collector is aggressive. However, this will not disappear the debt and may even worsen the situation. It’s important to face our obligations, even though it may be difficult, to resolve the problem.
The legal system can be complex and confusing, especially regarding debt. Ignoring a debt might seem the most straightforward solution; however, doing so can land you in hot water. You could be sued by a debt collector and end up in court. Knowing your rights and how to respond in this situation is essential.
In Maine, creditors and bill collectors can sue you for debt collection in two ways. First, they can file a Small Claims court case against you. This is only possible when the amount owed is $6,000 or less. With Small Claims, you don’t have to file anything with the courts ahead of time. You show up to court on the date and time indicated on the papers you were served, bringing all relevant evidence.
However, suppose they choose to sue you through District Court. In that case, you will receive a Complaint and Summons that contains important information about why you are being sued, how much money they are claiming you owe, who the original creditor is, and what their requests of the court are.
It is important to take quick and appropriate action when a debt collector sues you in the District Court. The Answer to the Complaint and Summons is a crucial document for your case, so you must ensure that it is filled out correctly.
Debt Collection Summons Deadline In Maine
You only have a limited time to respond after being served with a Summons and Complaint. According to Maine debt collection law, you must file an Answer within twenty days. Take your chance.
A deputy or process server will serve you with a Summons and Complaint in person. This document tells you when and where you need to be in court, who is suing you, why you are being sued, and how much money you are being sued for.
How you react to the Summons and Complaint will significantly impact what happens next with your case. For example, failing to file an Answer with the court within 20 days of being served the Complaint can result in a default judgment against you – meaning you lose. On the other hand, responding quickly enough will give you a chance to defend yourself in court.
Filing an Answer is only necessary when disputing the debt or its circumstances. Otherwise, no response is needed indicating agreement with the debt. However, a Response must be filed, and appearing in court is required when:
- You don’t believe you owe the debt.
- You think the creditor violated the contract or the Maine Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- You agree with the circumstances of the debt but not the amount.
- You have evidence that you have already paid the debt in full, in part, or that it was settled for a lower amount.
It’s essential to have your day in court to defend yourself against the plaintiff’s Complaint. By filing an Answer and going to court with evidence, you can make sure that your side of the story is heard.
You can take several steps before your case goes to a hearing before a judge to validate the debt. The first is to request validation through discovery using the Maine Discovery form. This form should be filed with the court clerk and served to the plaintiff or attorney. However, debt validation letters will no longer be appropriate once you have been sued.
You’ll need to file a copy with the court and mail one to the plaintiff within 20 days. Make sure you have everything ready so you can meet the deadline.
Answers To Summons Forms In Maine
The specific elements that must be included in Answer to a summons and Complaint are:
- The court, case, and party information
- Your response to each paragraph listed in the documents you received
- Your Affirmative Defenses record why you do not believe you owe the debt.
It’s essential to get your Answer in the correct format, with all the right information, before the 20-day deadline. Otherwise, your submission may be rejected.
Maine Filing Fees
There are no filing fees for submitting your Answer to the court. Please take it to the court clerk to have it filed free of charge. Or mail it to the court, but remember that doing so will require paying for certified mail so that delivery and receipt can be confirmed before the deadline.
The plaintiff or their attorney must also receive a copy of your Answer, which must be sent via certified or express mail. There are no other costs associated with filing an Answer in Maine.
How To Respond To A Debt Collection Case In Maine
In Maine, responding quickly after receiving the initial court papers for a debt collection case is essential. To respond, file an Answer with the courts. Follow these steps to respond to a debt collection lawsuit appropriately.
1. Prepare an answer document
You first need to create a document in which you will write out your Answer. This document must include specific information detailed in the Summons and Complaint documents you received. Once you have this information, you can begin formulating an answer to the Complaint.
The top of your Answer must include the following:
See If You Qualify for Credit Card Relief
See how much you can save every month — plus get an estimate of time savings and total savings — with your very own personalized plan.
- District Court, location, and docket number
- Plaintiff name and location
- Your name and address
2. Respond to each complaint issue
The Complaint you received lists the issues by paragraph. You will need to answer these issues, referencing the appropriate paragraph number, in one of three ways:
- I admit that the statement is true.
- I deny the statement.
- I need more information to know if the statement is true or false.
You can leave much here. Your explanations will be in the next section.
3. Make affirmative defenses
Affirmative defenses are the legal reasons you feel the plaintiff is not entitled to what they are asking. Different people have different reasons for not wanting to pay a debt. Some may think the person asking for the money has no legal right. Others may believe they should not have to pay because of extenuating circumstances.
Whatever the reason, there are a few ways to defend oneself against claims of owed money. The most common affirmative defenses include the following:
- The entity suing you is not the party you agreed with, and there is no clear evidence that they have a right to collect on the debt.
- The statute of limitations has expired, and court action is unlawful.
- The original creditor violated the contract or agreement.
- Misconduct or violations of terms voided the contract.
- You are the victim of identity theft, and the entity failed to gather appropriate identification before creating the account.
- You did not authorize the creation of the account, or enter into a verbal, implied, or written contract with the entity.
It is essential to have a strong defense when you are being sued for debt. Not being able to pay the debt is not an acceptable affirmative defense. Still, you may have other legal options available to you. Be sure to list your counterclaims against the plaintiff in your affirmative defenses section.
4. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff
The next step is filing an answer with the court and serving it to the plaintiff or attorney. Hand-delivering it to the court clerk or mailing it are both options. The plaintiff and their attorney should also receive a copy.
Always go for the certified or express option, no matter which mail service you choose. This way, the person you’re sending it to will have to sign for it, and you’ll get confirmation of delivery. That’s important to prove you filed the Answer before the deadline.
Maine’s Statute Of Limitations On Debt
Different states have different laws regarding how long a debt can be sued for. In Maine, this time limit is six years from the consumer’s last action on the account, a statute of limitations.
Maine’s statute of limitations on debt dictates that creditors cannot sue or take civil action against debtors for debts over six years old. So, armed with this knowledge, you can be confident in using this as an affirmative defense should the need arise.
The bad thing is that If you are sued for a debt and lose, the statute of limitations then becomes 20 years, which is a long time.
|Debt Type||Deadline In Years|
Legal aid organizations in Maine
Before taking further action, it is always a good idea to consult a lawyer to get professional advice. This is especially true when you feel like you have everything under control. Many states offer free legal assistance through government-funded organizations if you cannot afford legal services.
You always have rights, no matter who is suing you. When you receive a Summons and Complaint in Maine, you need to respond with an answer filed with the court. This document can be simple, but it does need to follow a specific format and include certain information.
The steps to filing your Answer are as follows:
- Create your Answer document.
- Answer each Complaint by paragraph number.
- State your Affirmative Defenses.
- File with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff’s attorney.
We hope this article was helpful. Thank you for reading!