It’s stressful to be sued. However, getting sued for debt collection is even more stressful because there’s a good chance you don’t have enough money to pay off your debt, let alone the legal fees involved. The most likely reason you got behind in the first place was probably that you didn’t have enough money coming in. If you do not have additional money to hire a lawyer to assist you, this probably means you are facing the stress of the lawsuit in addition to the uncertainty of how to proceed.
There may be a temptation to ignore the whole thing, but it is important to resist that urge. Ignoring a lawsuit will only result in one outcome: the person suing you will win the case.
It is the best thing that you can do to protect yourself as much as possible. If you have been sued for debt in Oklahoma, your first step is to file a written answer with the court as soon as possible. During this course, we will walk you through everything you need to know about responding to Oklahoma debt collection, including state deadlines, how to draft an Answer, as well as forms that can be used to assist you.
The Deadline To Respond To A Debt Collection Lawsuit In Oklahoma Is 20 Days
It takes 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Oklahoma. The lawsuit begins with the filing of a Summons and Petition against you. The documents are served to you in person or by mail. On both documents, along with the certificate of service, you should be able to see the filing date clearly. It’s 20 days from the filing date that you need to figure out your response deadline (including weekends).
As an example, Jack got served a summons and petition for a credit card debt. The Summons says March 1, 2023. Jack must respond by March 21, 2023.
In the event you don’t respond before the deadline, the plaintiff will ask the court for a default judgment. In a default judgment, the filing party wins just because the defendant didn’t respond. In that case, not only did you lose the case, but the plaintiff (either your creditor or a debt collection agency that bought your original debt) can garnish your paycheck or bank account based on the default judgment order.
As a result, you don’t get your paycheck until you don’t see it, so your financial situation gets even worse. Furthermore, you can’t dispute any of the lawsuit’s details (like the amount of debt) or set up a repayment plan you can afford. There’s really a lot at stake, which is why filing your response within 20 days is the best thing you can do to protect yourself.
Respond To A Debt Collection Case In Oklahoma Using An Answer Form
While many states offer online forms you can fill out directly on the court’s website, Oklahoma does not offer that service. You shouldn’t let that discourage you from having the confidence to file your own response, however.
There is really no need to worry about how difficult it is to draft an answer to a debt collection lawsuit since it isn’t as complicated as it seems.
You can draft your free Answer on online sites. All you need to do is answer a few questions online, and they will translate your responses into the necessary format and legalese for the court documents that will be used by the court.
In addition, if you want peace of mind, they may also have an attorney review the completed documents to ensure that everything is correct. Then, they will file all of your paperwork on your behalf so you do not have to even leave your house to do this.
Be Aware Of Answer Filing Fees
It is a blessing that there are no fees involved in filing an Answer in Oklahoma. That being said, you should double-check the fee schedule of the court if you plan to file a counterclaim or motion into your case.
4 Steps To Answer A Petition In An Oklahoma Debt Collection Case
In Oklahoma, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you start filing your own response to a debt collection case. The first thing you need to do is to make sure you file your response within twenty days of the deadline for filing your response. Secondly, you can respond by filing an Answer document as well as by submitting a Motion. This article will only address the Answer document. It is by its very nature that motions are more complex, and should be handled by a legal professional. Unlike a Question document, an Answer document is pretty straightforward and consists of the following steps:
- Make an answer document
- Respond to each complaint issue
- Make sure you assert your affirmative defenses
- Serve the plaintiff with another copy of the Answer document
Let’s break each of these steps down.
1. Make An Answer Document
First, you will need to create an Answer document according to the required format and the good news is that you can essentially mimic the format of the documents that you received, i.e. the Summons and the Complaint, in order to do this.
The caption is a section that appears at the beginning of each document, and it contains information about the court of proper jurisdiction (the court where the case will be heard). As every state has a different court system, determining the appropriate jurisdiction for a case can be quite difficult, but here you do not have to worry about that, because it is the plaintiff who has to decide the jurisdiction, not you. You can rely on the information that has already been provided to you by the plaintiff regarding the court process.
The following information will be required in order for you to create your own caption:
- Court info – county, address, type of court, civil case number
- Name, address, phone number, etc.
- Information about the plaintiff – the company name, address, and phone number of their lawyer
It’s best to copy the format and spacing from your Summons and Complaint. Then, instead of “Complaint,” write “Answer to Complaint.”
2. Respond To Each Complaint Issue
The next step in drafting your response is to respond to the allegations in the Complaint. You should answer each allegation separately. You’ll notice that they’re numbered out. Your answers should all be structured the same way, and you’ll list your answers in a paragraph that starts with the same number for each numbered paragraph. You should write your response to the allegation in paragraph #1 in your paragraph #1.
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Answer the allegation by choosing one of the three options below. This is called answering “just the facts.” You can admit to things that are true, such as your name or account number. The affirmative answer (by saying “admit”) will not hurt your case. You don’t have to deny all allegations to win the lawsuit. You can, but you really only need to win one.
- Unable to Admit or Deny for lack of information
Any allegations that are not true should be denied. Suppose the plaintiff alleges you refused to pay. You may simply list “deny.” If you believe you have relevant facts to disclose to the Court, you may admit or deny “with an explanation.” In cases where you cannot verify if something is true or false, such as the plaintiff’s company details, a final response is appropriate.
3. Make Sure You Assert Your Affirmative Defenses
This next section might even be a little fun. Here, you fight back, using affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses are any reason that you can assert that the plaintiff doesn’t have a case. Title 12 Civil Procedure (C) contains a complete list of all affirmative defenses available to you. You may use any and all affirmative defenses that are appropriate for your situation.
The following is a list of some of the most common affirmative defenses. Please note that the inability to pay is not an affirmative defense.
- Payment: Usually, debt collection lawsuits aren’t brought by your original creditor, so you can’t be asked to pay it again if you already paid the debt in question. Third-party debt collection agencies purchase your original creditor’s debt, usually as a bundle of debts. Usually, this debt collection company collects all the debts without doing much research into each one. Remember what we mentioned about default judgments? If a plaintiff intimidates someone into not responding to a lawsuit and gets a default judgment, they don’t need to prove anything further. In contrast, if they have to examine each individual debt, it may be that you already paid it or came to another agreement.
- Accord and satisfaction: Legally, this means an agreement between two parties where less than the full amount owed will be accepted in full satisfaction of the total debt. You can prove that you no longer owe the debt again if you made such an agreement with your original creditor that the debt buyer missed. Include any proof of such an agreement in your response, such as canceled checks or emails.
- The debt was already discharged in bankruptcy. A discharged bankruptcy case, including this debt, prevents anyone from trying to collect the debt.
- The statute of limitations has expired. There is a law that sets a deadline for legal action in various matters. We will discuss the Oklahoma statute of limitations on debt collection later.
In addition to asserting affirmative defenses, you can also assert counterclaims against the plaintiff. Counterclaims are most likely to arise if the plaintiff violated Oklahoma debt collection laws. Oklahoma follows the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Oklahoma Statutes also include a fair debt collection practice law titled the Uniform Consumer Credit Code – Fair Debt Collection Practices in Section 7-101 of Title 14A. However, counterclaims can get quite complicated very quickly. It is advisable to seek legal assistance if you believe you have a reasonable counterclaim against the plaintiff.
4. Serve The Plaintiff With Another Copy Of The Answer Document
In order to file your Answer with the Court, you must confirm that you are within the 20-day deadline and then make sure you follow the steps as follows:
- Make sure that you print at least two copies of your answer
- One copy to the court
- Send the other copy to the plaintiff.
Make an extra copy of your Answer for your records, which may prove useful at your hearing.
Review The Statute Of Limitations On Debt In Oklahoma
For written contracts, promissory notes (mortgages), and credit cards, the statute of limitations is five years. The most common debt collection areas include medical, credit card, and auto loans. Oral contracts and open contracts have a shorter statute of limitations.
If you haven’t made a payment for 5 years or more (3 for oral/open contracts), you can’t be sued.
|Credit Card||5 years|
How Do I Respond If I’m Sued In Oklahoma’s Small Claims Court?
The Oklahoma small claims court handles claims under $10,000. Here’s what you need to know.
A small claims court works pretty much like a regular civil court. You still have to file your written response before the deadline and attend the court hearing to avoid default. At the hearing, you’ll get to tell your side of the story, and then a judge will decide.
Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer If I’m Being Sued For Debt In Oklahoma?
As you may know, hiring an attorney can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. The cost to hire a lawyer might even be higher than the debt you owe if you are facing bankruptcy.
If you need assistance in navigating the legal system, you can also reach out to many of the legal aid organizations that the state of Oklahoma has instituted to assist pro se litigants.
Oklahoma Legal Aid Organizations
A legal aid organization can be found in every state that provides free legal services to those who can’t afford them otherwise. In Oklahoma, you can check out some of these organizations:
- Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Free Legal Answer
- Oklahoma Lawyers for America’s Heros Program
- Oklahoma Indian Legal Services
In summary, here’s a quick look at how to respond to a summons for debt collection in Oklahoma and what you need to do to do so.
- Please keep in mind that you have a 20-day deadline to respond.
Here are three steps you need to follow:
- Provide a detailed response to each complaint issue.
- Make sure you are asserting your affirmative defenses
- It is important that the answer is filed and served
Wishing you all the best!