How do I respond to a civil summons?

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How do I respond to a civil summons?

I have an outstanding medical bill that has been sent to the hospital’s attorney. I have already made arrangements with the hospital’s attorney to make payments each month. I am unsure of the proper response to a civil summons in IN.

Asked on May 23, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you receive a summons (and presumably also the complaint that goes with it), you *must* file and answer within a short period of time or else you will lose by default (like forfeiting a ball game by not showing up). If you contact your court--for example, go to your state or local court system's website--you should be able to find information about answering a summons, such as the court rules which tell you how long and what needs to be in the answer, or information about format, length, etc. You can also go to the court and ask the clerk--they usually have resources available to help pro se litigants, or people representing themselves.

2) Note however that what you should do, unless the summons is for a very small amount, is retain an attorney to answer for  you, negotiate with the hospital if appropriate, etc.

3) Important: if there was an agreement between you and the hospital (or the hospital's lawyer) about a payment plan, the hospital MUST honor that agreement. It must have been a firm agreement, not merely discussions or negotiations; and if you had nothing in writing, it may be difficult to prove.


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