It’s always a downer to receive a summons for Debt, but don’t worry; you’re not the only one. In fact, according to the Urban Institute, 32% of Kentuckians have Debt in collections, which is significantly higher than the national average of 26%. So take comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this challenging situation.
You may be tempted to ignore your Kentucky summons and hope the Debt will go away. But there are better ways to handle the situation. You have rights under Kentucky debt collection laws, and you may be able to get a positive outcome in court. It’s worth taking action and responding to the summons. You might not have to pay the Debt at all.
In Kentucky, what is a Civil Summons?
When two private individuals have opposing legal claims against each other, this is referred to as a civil case. In contrast, criminal cases are those in which someone is accused of committing an offense. Therefore, any lawsuit that involves money owed would be considered civil since no crime has been committed.
A civil summons in Kentucky is an official notice informing an individual they are being sued. This document is typically served with a complaint, which outlines the specific charges being brought against them in the lawsuit.
You will be provided with a Summons form that includes essential information such as:
- The plaintiff’s name
- The defendant’s name
- The title and case file number
- The court to hear the case
- The attorneys’ names
- Instructions on how to respond to the Complaint
Are you wondering what a plaintiff is and what a defendant is? The plaintiff is the person or company that started the lawsuit. The defendant is the person being sued. So, for example, let’s say someone sues you for a debt they claim you owe them. In this case, you would be the defendant.
As a plaintiff or defendant in a Kentucky civil case, you must adhere to specific state rules for your chance to be considered valid. This includes filing the appropriate paperwork and responding to the suit within the set timeframe. But how long do you have to answer your Civil Summons in KY, and what is the process? Keep reading for more information.
Don’t miss the deadline for responding to a Kentucky Summons
As a defendant, you are required to file an Answer to the Summons and Complaint within 20 days of receiving them, as stipulated by Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure 12.01. This means that according to the law:
“A defendant shall serve their Answer within 20 days after service of the summons upon them.
Getting sued can be scary. But once you’ve been served with a summons or Complaint, you have to take action.
Have you received a Kentucky Civil Summons? Here’s what it might look like.
You must respond before the deadline. Missing it could mean automatically losing your case. After 20 days, the creditor or debt collector can ask for a default judgment against you, and the court will likely grant it. With a default judgment, they can garnish your wages or put liens on your property.
Pay attention to an error in your debt collection Summons and Complaint just because you think it might give you an advantage. The Debt stated in the Complaint is still owed regardless of the reason for the missed deadline, and you’ll have to pay up unless you file an Answer within the 20-day limit. Your chances of winning are pretty good if you respond within that timeframe.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Example: John and Jane are both in Debt to the same company. They each receive a summons to appear in court on the same day. Jane immediately takes action and discovers that her original Debt was only $2,900. She settles her Debt for $2,000 on a payment plan. Unfortunately, John never filed an Answer, and the debtor can get a default judgment against him for a total $5,000.
Respond to a Kentucky debt collection case by following these steps
You may be served with a Summons and Complaint from a creditor seeking debt collection in Kentucky. This notice could come through the mail or in person from a sheriff, constable, or court-appointed special bailiff.
When you begin drafting your response to the summons and Complaint, review the documents carefully to ensure you have all the information you need. These documents should contain the following information, which you will need to draft your Answer document:
- Defendant’s first and last name (that’s you)
- Plaintiff’s name (the creditor or debt collector suing you)
- Plaintiff’s attorney’s information
- The physical address of both parties
- Court information, including which division the case is in and the court’s address
- Case number
- Debt amount
It is essential to include all of the relevant information at the top of your document. This is referred to as “styling” and is a standard legal practice. Double-check that you have included all of the necessary information before beginning work on your document. Once you have verified everything is in order, you can start working on your Answer.
Assuming you have been served with a Summons and Complaint in a debt collection lawsuit, here are three steps to take to respond:
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- Respond to each allegation in the complaint
- Be sure to include affirmative defenses.
- File the Answer with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff’s attorney.
Respond to each allegation in the complaint
An Answer is a response to the claims made against you in the Complaint. The Complaint will list the allegations against you, which you can identify because they’ll be listed as numbered paragraphs.
In response to allegations made in a complaint, we have provided a list of reactions below. This will effectively address any concerns raised and clarify our stance.
- Admit—like saying, “This is true.”
- Deny—like saying, “Prove it.”
- Deny due to lack of knowledge—like saying, “I don’t know.”
You should always respond to each accusation individually when you are accused of something, especially in a legal setting. Leaving any claims unanswered will be seen as an admission in court.
Most attorneys will tell you that you should deny as many allegations as possible. At this stage of the lawsuit, the burden of proof is not on you. So when you reject a claim, the plaintiff must do more work to prove that what they say is true. Often, they don’t have the proper documentation or evidence to support their case and may choose to dismiss the charges instead.
It’s essential to be mindful of the allegations against you when responding, especially in Kentucky, where amending your response is allowed under certain circumstances. According to Rule 15.01 of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, you have 20 days after receiving the summons and Complaint to amend your Answer. This means you can change your response, but only for a legitimate and honest reason. After 20 days, you’ll need either written permission from the plaintiff or leave of court from the judge to amend your response.
Since amending a response creates more work and stress, it’s best to take your time reading through the allegations and providing accurate and truthful answers the first time around.
Be sure to include affirmative defenses
Your affirmative defenses are crucial to winning your debt collection case. You can use many possible reasons, but not all apply to your situation. However, you can increase your chances of success with a solid affirmative defense.
There are many potential defenses you can raise in a debt lawsuit.
- Expired statute of limitations: Have you been contacted by a creditor or debt collector about a debt that is several years old? You may wonder whether they can still sue you for payment. Kentucky has a statute of limitations on debt collection of five years. This means that after five years since your last payment, your creditor no longer has legal recourse to sue you. So, even though they may still contact you about the price, you can use this as an affirmative defense against them.
- Incorrect debt amount listed: The amount of Debt listed in the Kentucky Civil Summons and Complaint may need to be corrected. This could be due to a creditor’s error or because the Debt has already been paid. Either way, this can be used as an affirmative defense.
- Canceled contract: You may be able to defend yourself against a debt collection lawsuit by claiming that you had an agreement with the creditor but canceled it, and they are still trying to collect a debt that you don’t owe.
- Stolen or mistaken identity: You can defend yourself against a debt collector by raising one of several possible affirmative defenses. For example, you can argue that the Debt is not yours (e.g., you share a name with someone, and the collector has the wrong person), or that you did not apply for, receive, or use the credit card in question. In either of these cases, identity theft may be another possible defense.
- No relationship to the debtor or creditor: Collection agencies often attempt to collect debts sold to them by the original creditor. However, you can use this affirmative defense to stop them. The collection agency must be able to provide proof that they purchased your Debt from the original creditor to continue with the lawsuit.
File the Answer with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff’s attorney
It’s essential to file your Answer with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff’s lawyer. This step is crucial. Failure to do so could result in a default judgment being entered against you, and you may have to pay the Debt in full.
To file your Answer on your own, follow these steps:
- Make two copies of your Answer.
- Mail one copy to the court.
- Mail one copy to the plaintiff’s attorney.
Make sure you have the correct mailing address for the court. Sometimes the address on the Kentucky Summons may need to be corrected. The court’s mailing address may even differ from the physical address of the courthouse.
Sending your Answer via USPS Certified Mail is a good idea. Request a confirmation receipt and make copies of everything to prove that your Answer arrived.
Kentucky’s statute of limitations on debt
After five years, creditors in Kentucky no longer have a legal right to sue debtors. This is due to Kentucky’s statute of limitations on debt collections, which expires after five years. Additionally, once this statute of limitations expires, Debt should also be removed from one’s credit report. However, for medical Debt, there is usually a written contract involved, meaning that under Kentucky medical debt collection laws, there is typically a 15-year statute of limitations.
It’s important to know the statute of limitations on your Debt because creditors and debt collectors can still sue you even after that period has expired. They’re counting on you being ignorant of the law. Think about it; most people have never even heard of the statute of limitations, and they’re hoping you fall under this umbrella. This is why you should always check the statute of limitations on your Debt before responding to your case.
When a debt collector contacts you, it’s essential to investigate the Debt before making any payments. The statute of limitations on Debt may be restarted when you make payments, so you could end up paying for a debt that is no longer valid.
Make use of Kentucky legal aid organizations
Many organizations in the state of Kentucky offer free legal services to residents. These organizations are funded by the government and provide a valuable resource for those in need.
Here is a list of some of these organizations and their contact information:
Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky
120 N. Front Ave.
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
Local: (606) 886-9876
Kentucky Legal Aid (Multiple Branches)
1700 Destiny Lane
Bowling Green, KY 42104
Local: (270) 782-1924
Toll-Free: (800) 782-1924
100 South Railroad Street
Madisonville, KY 42431
Local: (270) 825-3801
Toll-Free: (800) 467-2193
100 Fountain Avenue
Paducah, KY 42001
Local: (270) 442-5518
Toll-Free: (800) 467-2218
117 West Second Street
Owensboro, KY 42303
Local: (270) 683-4585
Toll-Free: (800) 467-2260
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass (Multiple Branches)
Email: [email protected]
Main Phone: (859) 431-8200
104 East 7th St.
Covington, KY 41011
300 E. Main St. Suite 110
Lexington, KY 40507
546 E. Main St. Suite 1
Morehead, KY 40351
1616 Greenup Ave.
Ashland, KY 41101
Legal Aid Society (Louisville area)
Legal Aid Society
416 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40202
Local: (502) 584-1254
Toll-Free: (800) 292-1862
Locations of Kentucky courts
The court address may need to be more precise on your Kentucky Summons. You can find the court’s address by using the dropdown menu on the state website. The mailing address and physical address may be different.