Can a collection agency get a judgment against me without a hearing?

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Can a collection agency get a judgment against me without a hearing?

I was served by the sheriff’s dept with a complaint from a law firm, due to an unpaid credit card bill. I responded to the address on the complaint. Now I have a letter stating that since I didn’t respond, they could enter a judgment without a hearing, and I could lose property or rights. Is this legal?

Asked on July 26, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Ok what you need to do is to file an answer with the court in which the lawsuit is venued.  Look on the summons.  Does it say Civil Court or Superior Court for the County of such and such in the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania?  That is the court that you need to go to and use the index or docket number listed.  It is the court's file number for your case.  Once the answer is filed with the court they can not claim that you did not answer.  What they mean "without a hearing" is that they will take a default judgement against you and then proceed to an inquest (trial) to obtain a judgement.  Filing the answer insures that the court is aware that you are taking the matter seriously and not ignoring the matter.  Then send them a letter indicating that the answer was filed and that you are to be served with any notice on the case at whatever address you put.  Good luck.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Potentially there was some glitch in your response to the complaint where you did not serve the answer on the other side or file it with the court. If you did not file the answer to the complaint with the court, you could be defaulted and have a default judgment entered against you.

Go to the court house and pull the file where the lawsuit is against you to see if your answer is in the file. If it is filed, then you have not been defaulted. If you have been defaulted, you need to have it set aside. To do this, you should consult with an attorney who does general civil litigation. If there is a default enetered, you do not get notice of the hearing for the prove up judgment.

If a judgment is entered and you cannot get it set aside, your property could be taken to pay off the judgment.

Good luck.


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