In Florida, typically someone who is sued is served with the lawsuit and given 20 or sometimes 30 days to file a response. If the lawsuit was filed in small claims court, you are given a date to appear at a pretrial conference instead of filing a written response.
The most important thing is: Don’t ignore the deadline. It doesn’t matter that you think you might be able to work it out or that you called the attorney’s office who filed the lawsuit. If you don’t file a timely written response with the court, or attend the pretrial conference, a default will be entered against you. A default judgment can last up to 20 years in Florida and is very hard to challenge.
Before the deadline expires, please see an attorney. Many attorneys, including our office offer a free consultation for foreclosure defense or debt collection matters.
At the consultation, you can expect to discuss the following:
1) Whether to present an aggressive defense to the lawsuit in an attempt to win the case;
2) Identify weaknesses in the other side’s case;
3) Whether to attempt to negotiate a settlement which may reduce the principal owed, interest rate or fees and costs;
4) The expected length of the case so you can make plans;
5) Whether you should consider filing bankruptcy which may eliminate this and other debts and stop the lawsuit; and
6) What happens if a judgment is entered against you.