Think I'm being sued...

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Think I'm being sued...
Wed, 08-22-2007 - 10:25pm

I have received two different letters in the last two days from attorneys claiming that "according to public records" I am being sued for one of my past medical bills. They include which court it is in and a case number. The letters aren't from attorneys claiming to represent the party who is suing me but they are fishing for business in case I decide to file bankruptcy. Apparently, they spend time scanning public records looking for their next potential clients. Anyway...

Anyway, I haven't received anything official from the court or anybody else for that matter. I haven't been "served" with anything. This is for a medical bill that I have been trying to make monthly payments on. Some of you may remember that the original creditor turned it over to their collections people and they were calling me at work and even sent a letter threatening to continue to call me at work if I didn't talk to them. I sent them a debt validation letter and heard nothing else from them. So I have sent another payment to the original creditor. My guess is that the collection company got pissed when I sent them the validation letter and recommended to the original creditor that they take further action (this is something else the rep that called me at work threatened). Anyway, the total debt is only about $535.00.

So what should I do? Contact the court and find out if a court date has been scheduled? I've heard that sometimes they will claim you were served, set a date that you don't know of and then when you don't show, you have an automatic judgement against you because you weren't there. I have my copies of the letter I sent to the collection agency (certified and return receipt) as well as record of the payments I've made this year. I admit I missed a couple of payments but I'm doing the best I can (I'm recently divorced, raising 3 young children (one with special needs) on my own). Can they garnish my wages without a judgement against me or without my knowing about the judgement first?

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!


Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 08-23-2007 - 2:49pm

No they cannot garnish your wages without a judgment. In order to get a default judgment, which would mean they couldn't get ahold of you or that you refused to respond to them trying to serve you with a complaint they have to satisfy certain things. It will depend on the court they go to, but all courts require that they show they attempted to contact you through either mail or hand delivery. If they attempt to serve you by mail they have to show that they sent it certified mail, return receipt, or restricted delivery and that it either was returned or refused. I have even had in some cases that happen and the judge will make the lawyer get a verification from the post office showing that that is your correct address or whether you have moved. If they have it hand delivered most courts require a sheriff or process server do it and they have to fill a certificate of service saying they either served you, or made so many attempts to serve you and were unable to. Even if they try to have a default judgment entered against you they have to send you a copy of the notice to enter default judgment to you by mail. So most likely nothing has been entered with the court against you.

However, if there was one filed and the attorneys got a default against you, you can in most instances ask the court to set aside the default by saying that they did not reasonably try and notify you of the lawsuit. If these letters have a court and case number on them then I would call the court and find out what you need to do to get a copy of the case and ask if there is a hearing date set. Some courts even let you see certain information on the cases online, such as anything that has been filed in the case, any hearing dates etc.

HTH, Tracy