How to Answer a Summons in Texas
If you have been sued for debt in Texas and properly served with a lawsuit or summons you must file a written answer to prevent a default judgment from being entered against you. The purpose of the answer is to enter an appearance, deny the allegations against you and identify your defenses. To determine if you have been properly served please read my article on Services of Process in Texas.
It is always advisable to hire an attorney to file an answer for you. If you have been sued for a debt in Texas, please contact our law firm. We generally charge flat fees and we have payment plans for as low as $250.00 per month.
The deadline to file your answer depends on what type of court you have been sued in. The answer date is usually always a Monday. If you were sued in Justice Court or Small Claims Court, you count off 14 days from the service date, then you go to the next Monday and that is your answer date. If you were sued in County Court or District Court, then you count off 20 days from service and go to the next Monday on the calendar. The answer needs to be filed by 10:00am on that day. (If Monday is a legal holiday, then the answer date is Tuesday or the next business day that is not a legal holiday).
Your written answer must be filed with the court and a copy must be sent to the opposing side.
The standard answer is a “general denial,” but this is not always appropriate depending on the type of lawsuit. A general denial is a statement that the defendant “generally denies all the allegations in the plaintiff’s petition.”
Some answers need to be sworn to under oath. You should consult with an attorney to determine if your answer needs to be sworn because if you simply file a general denial when you should have filed a “verified denial,” you could end up losing your case because of it.
If you believe that you have been sued in the wrong venue, you must file a motion to transfer venue to the proper one before filing your answer or along with your answer in the same document. If you file an answer without seeking to transfer venue, then you have waived this option.
You should also list your defenses in your answer. For instance, if you have been sued for debt in Texas, a good defense may be to claim that the creditor has not filed the lawsuit within the four year statute of limitations for suing for debts. You would want to list “statute of limitations” as one of your affirmative defenses. Please see my article on the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Texas.
Common traps for consumers are the imbedded “request for admissions” that are often in the petition or attached to it. You should carefully check for a request for admissions. If you do not properly respond to these requests within the applicable time, then you have automatically admitted all of the requests. A general denial does not operate to deny the request for admissions and the creditor will likely file a Motion for Summary Judgment if you fail to properly respond to the admissions.
As you can see, there are many traps for consumers who try to defend lawsuits without the assistance of an attorney. This article is just a brief overview of the answer process and does not contain all of the information necessary to properly defend a lawsuit. Please call our office for a FREE consultation.
Other Related Articles by Michael W. Weston:
- Top Consumer Myths about debt purchaser lawsuits
- Sued for Debt in Texas
- Service of Process in Texas
- How to Answer a Summons in Texas
- Default Judgments in Texas
- Statute of Limitations for Debt in Texas
- Motion for Summary Judgment in Texas
By: Texas Credit Card Lawsuit Defense Lawyer - Michael W. Weston
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