Our Texas debt settlement attorney has dealt with thousands of lawsuits like the one you could be facing. You know you’ve been sued, maybe because you got a notice from the court and maybe because you got a bunch of advertising letters from attorneys. Maybe you even looked your lawsuit up online.
But you still haven’t been served, at least as far as you know. (Although it may be possible that they served you and you don’t know it.)
So now you may be wondering…”How long do they have to serve me?”
There is no deadline for the creditor to serve you
There is no deadline for how long the creditor has to serve you after they file the lawsuit. And, most of the time, nothing happens to them if they don’t serve you for months, or even a year or more. The lawsuit is not automatically dismissed if they don’t serve you within a certain amount of time or anything like that.
Some judges impose informal deadlines
Some judges will set what is called a “DWOP hearing” if the creditor has not served you in a certain amount of time. DWOP stands for “dismissed for want or prosecution.” To avoid getting the case dismissed, the creditor needs to explain to the judge what efforts they have made to serve you. The judge will either accept their explanation or not, and then either dismiss the case or not.
But you can’t rely on the judge to dismiss the case
Many judges have no process in place to dismiss the case if the creditor does not serve you. So your case could linger in limbo, possibly for years.
You could get served and not even know it
The creditor does not have to personally serve you with the lawsuit for the lawsuit to go forward. There are other ways that they can “serve” you, and, if you get served (or already were served) by one of these other ways, you may not even know you were served. These are just a few of the ways that you might get served:
- Certified mail: In Justice Court, they can serve you by certified mail. You “got served” even if you never went to the post office to pick up the letter.
- Tape a copy to your door: They can serve you by taping a copy of the lawsuit to your door. You “got served” even if they taped the lawsuit to the front door of the wrong house, or if it fell off and blew away.
- Serve someone else: Legally, they can serve anyone over 16 at the address on the lawsuit. This includes the kid mowing the lawn.
Don’t play games with the process server
Some people think that they can just “avoid” the process server and defeat the lawsuit that way. The thought process is: “If they can’t serve me, then they can’t go forward with the lawsuit.”
It’s true that there’s a chance the lawsuit will get dismissed if they never serve you. But there’s a much bigger chance that they will just go to court and get permission to serve you by mail or by taping a copy of the lawsuit to your front door and then go from there.
Many—many!—people get judgments against them without ever getting served with the lawsuit. If that happens to you, it will end up costing you much more to deal with it later than it would cost you to deal with it now.
Why take the chance? If you know you’ve been sued, deal with the lawsuit.
The safest thing to do is file your answer
Once you know you’re been sued, the safest thing to do is hire a debt collection attorney and file your answer. Once your answer is filed, they can’t get a default judgment against you. Plus, once you file your Answer, both the court and the other attorney have to send the court notices to your attorney, so you will know what’s going on in the lawsuit.
Get a free consultation
Call 844.334.4566 or fill out the contact form now. The consultation is completely free, and there is no obligation.