Can I be sued without being served?

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Can I be sued without being served?

A couple weeks ago, a sheriff showed up at my old address looking for me. My sister-in-law jtold him that I didn’t live there, then told me about it. My husband looked on casenet and found out that I’m being sued by a funding company. I’ve never heard of this company, nor received any calls/mail from them. I’m assuming it’s from an old credit card. I don’t know where to go from here. I researched the company on-line and found hundreds of complaints about them. I was never actually served. Do I go to court? Do I send an answer to their lawyer? Do I need a lawyer?

Asked on February 7, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) You have to be served to be sued; that said, you can't just hide forever. There are various ways to make good service on you, the exact mechanism dependinig on which court you're being sued in (e.g. state vs. federal). For example, in some courts, simultaneously mailing regular mail and also certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address will provide good service. Eventually, you will be considered to be served.

2) If you're sued, you have four options:

a) Pay the full amount, if you think its correct and can afford to do it.

b) Look to settle with the plaintiff for something less than the full amount; some amount you both can live with.

c) Go to court and fight the suit, if you think there are grounds to do so (e.g. the amount is wrong; or you dispute the circumstances).

d) Ignore, let them get a judgement against you, then declare bankruptcy when they try to collect.

Which one is best, and allso whether you should get an attorney or not, depends on how much they are seeking, on what grounds, and your personal financial circumstances.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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