How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Hawaii (2020 Guide)

George Simons

May 30, 2020

Summary: Have you been served with a debt collection lawsuit Summons and Complaint in Hawaii?. SoloSuit can help. In this guide, we'll tell you how to create a quick and easy response to the Complaint in just 15 minutes.

If collectors are blowing up your phone with calls 24/7 or you've received a Summons and Complaint, you know that being pursued by a collection agency sucks. On a comforting note, you're definitely not alone. According to researchers at the Urban Institute, one in three Americans has at least one debt in collections. At SoloSuit, we talk to people like you every day, and we want to help. That's why we created this guide.

Getting a debt collector off your back in Hawaii can be difficult, but knowing your rights is key. The best thing you can do to stop collectors from calling if you've received a Summons and Complaint for a debt is to respond to it. In this article, we'll guide you through the steps to efficiently and effectively responding to a debt collection lawsuit in Hawaii.

Hawaii Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

In the state of Hawaii, you have 20 days to file an Answer to the Summons and Complaint, according to Hawaii Civil Code Rule 12(a)(1). You will need to file an Answer with both the court and the Plaintiff within this time period. You may be thinking, Yikes--20 days doesn't sound like a long time! And it isn't, but we've got you covered.

Let's start with the bad news: if you fail to provide a formal Answer to your Summons and Complaint within 20 days, you will automatically lose. In most cases, at this point the plaintiff will file for a default judgment which will be entered against you as the defendant. In this case, the judgment will automatically be for the plaintiff and you will be required to pay the debt amount that appears on the Complaint.

As you can imagine, this could cause serious problems if there is an error in the debt amount or the debt is not yours. But as long as you thoroughly review any Complaint you receive and respond to it within 20 days, you're in the clear.

Want to create an Answer quickly? Try SoloSuit. It's easier than creating an Answer on your own. Plus, we'll make sure all your bases are covered, including creating your Answer, getting it approved by an attorney, and ensuring that it gets where it needs to go.

Hawaii Answer to Summons Forms

When responding to a debt collection Summons and Response, you can use SoloSuit.com. It only takes 15 minutes to generate your response.

You can also use Hawaii's official general Answer form for civil lawsuits. A question we commonly get is: does an Answer to a Summons need to be notarized? The answer is no. There are, however, some specific steps you should take when you're ready to mail it in, which we discuss below.

Here's a link to a PDF of the official Hawaii Answer form. This form is very brief, but you can learn more about the process of creating a strong Answer to a Complaint below.

Answer Filing Fees for Hawaii

Good news! There are no fees in the state of Hawaii to file an Answer to a Complaint against you.

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in Hawaii

When your creditor files a debt collection lawsuit in Hawaii, their first step is to serve you with what is known as the Summons and Complaint. You will be served these documents in person, or sometimes by mail. When you get them, don't blow off responding: remember that you have just 20 days to file an Answer. If you don't, a default judgment can be entered and you may have to pay the Plaintiff for any debt they say you owe.

Now for the fun part. (Don't worry, it's actually quite simple.) Here are the steps you'll take to submit your Answer:

Step 1: Set up an Answer document

Step 2: Answer each issue included in the Complaint

Step 3: Assert affirmative defenses

Step 4: File your Answer with the court and serve the Plaintiff with a copy

If you're worried about screwing something up here, welcome to the club. If you're feeling anxious, SoloSuit has got your back. We can help you easily create an Answer, have it reviewed by a qualified attorney, and submit it to the court and the Plaintiff on time.

If you decide to go it alone, we've provided detailed instructions below.

1. Create an Answer Document.

When submitting an Answer to a Summons and Complaint, the most important first step is to create a document that includes all necessary information required by the court.

Your Answer document should look professional, be proofread, and be properly formatted. No sloppy handwriting allowed! Take the time to type up your Answer document. A judge will look at your Answer, and believe it or not, presenting a professional-looking document can really help your case.

Okay, let's set up your Answer document. As you do this, you'll need to include what's known in legal terms as “styling” at the top of your document.

This includes ALL of the following:

  • Your full name
  • Your correct address
  • The name of the Plaintiff (in this case, the name of the creditor's attorney)
  • The name of the creditor
  • Information about the court, including its status as a state court or a city court
  • The address of the court
  • Information about the case, including the index number, case number, and amount of the debt you allegedly owe, which appears in the Summons and Complaint

Once you've included this information at the top of your document, your Answer document is ready to fill out.

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

Your Answer is simply your response to the accusations made by you in the Summons and Complaint. When you receive your Summons and Complaint, you'll see that there are many numbered paragraphs, each with an allegation against you. This can be really overwhelming, and sometimes be confusing. But it doesn't have to be: just follow the simple steps below.

When submitting an Answer to the Summons and Complaint, you have several options. One is to enter what is called a General Denial, where you deny all of the allegations against you. Another option is to respond individually to each accusation in the Complaint. If you decide to respond to each issue, just review each accusation. Then respond to each in one of the following ways:

  • Admit that the allegation is true
  • Deny the allegation
  • State that you lack the necessary knowledge or information to know whether the allegation is true or false.

So, which strategy should you choose? For starters, always be truthful when answering a Complaint. As you review the allegations, however, you may find that you're feeling unsure about whether some of the allegations against you are true or false. This is actually completely normal. If you're unsure, you can either state that you lack necessary knowledge or deny the allegation. For any allegation you deny, write a brief explanation of why you are denying it alongside the paragraph.

Whether you deny an allegation or state that you are unsure about it, the Plaintiff will have to prove these allegations in court. (This is why some attorneys actually recommend entering a General Denial, as it transfers more of the burden of proof to the Plaintiff.) Something else to keep in mind is that your responses aren't set in stone: you can always amend your Answer at a later date, including after the case begins.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

Affirmative Defenses are a key part of your Answer, as they offer reasons why the collector should lose the case.. There are many Affirmative Defenses you can use, but not all of them will apply to your case.

Here are some common Affirmative Defenses with explanations:

The amount of the debt is incorrect. You can use this Affirmative Defense if the creditor made an error in regard to how much you owe. For example, if you paid part of a debt but your payment is not reflected in the amount in the Summons and Complaint, you could use this defense.

You canceled a contract with the creditor and don't owe the debt. Use this Affirmative Defense if you signed a contract with the creditor but they are charging you for debt accrued after you canceled the contract.

Your Summons and Complaint were improperly served. Your Summons and Complaint should have been personally served to you at home. According to Hawaii Civil Code Rule 4(d)(1), the Summons and Complaint must be delivered together and in person. If you are not there, a copy can be left at your home with someone who lives with you.

The statute of limitations has expired. The statute of limitations on debt collection in Hawaii is six years from the date when you made your last payment. Any debt older than this cannot be legally collected from you.

Identity theft or mistaken identity. There are two identity issues you can use as Affirmative Defenses. You can use mistaken identity as an Affirmative Defense if the creditor is suing you for a debt that doesn't belong to you (ie: it is someone else's debt who shares your same name). You can use identity theft as an affirmative defense if the debt in question is from a credit card you never applied for, never received, or never used. This includes if your card was stolen and used without authorization.

Lack of standing due to no debtor/creditor relationship. Use this Affirmative Defense if your original creditor sold off your debt to a collection agency who is now the Plaintiff. In this case, the new creditor will need to prove that they purchased your debt from your original creditor.

Explain your Affirmative Defenses in as much detail as you need to to make a strong case. While it may take some time upfront, it will benefit you later on.

4. File the Answer with the court and serve the Plaintiff.

Once you've completed your Answer, you need to officially file it. Make sure to do this carefully, as you could face a default judgment if your Answer does not make it to the proper parties by the deadline. Want some extra peace of mind? Have SoloSuit do it for you.

To file your Answer correctly, you should:

  1. Make two copies of your Answer document
  2. Mail copy #1 to the court
  3. Mail copy #2 to the Plaintiff's attorney

Before you mail your copy to the court, make sure you have the correct mailing address for the court that appears on your Summons and Complaint. Mail both copies using USPS Certified Mail and request a confirmation receipt so you know your Answer has arrived with the proper parties.

Once your receipt arrives, make copies of everything including your Answer document and your receipt. Keep a copy in your phone as a photograph just in case there is an issue and you need proof of receipt later on.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Hawaii.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks defendants all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, users can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or they can pay SoloSuit to file it for them and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


Start My Answer


>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Hawaii

The Hawaii statute of limitations on debt collections is six years. Once six years have elapsed, the creditor can no longer sue you and your debt will be removed from your credit report.

However, keep in mind that an expired statute of limitations will do nothing to keep a creditor from suing you: they will definitely still try. This is why it is crucial that you use the statute of limitations as an Affirmative Defense: it's the only possible way you can get out of a lawsuit and get out of paying your debt.

Connecticut Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

6

Written

6

Mortgage

6

Open

6

Credit Card

6

Judgements

10


Source: Findlaw



Like all other U.S. states, Hawaii has at least one government-funded organization where you can receive free legal services.

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is Hawaii's organization. You can find out more about how they can help by contacting them here:

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (Main Branch)
924 Bethel St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 536-4302 (Oahu number)
(800) 499-4302 (Other Islands)
www.legalaidhawaii.org

Hawaii State Court Locations

Sometimes the location of your court isn't clear from the Summons. So we've linked to a list of Hawaii state courts here. This should be helpful in finding the location of your court. Be weary though, sometimes the mailing address is different from the physical address. So if you want to avoid that Waikiki traffic, you can have us file for you.

Key Takeaways

Nice work—now you know how to properly handle a Summons and Complaint in Hawaii! Here's a quick refresher on what you learned:

  • There is a 20-day deadline to file your Answer
  • To submit your Answer, you should:
    • Create an Answer document
    • Respond to each allegation in the Complaint
    • Include Affirmative Defenses for all relevant allegations
    • Serve your Answer to opposing counsel and mail it to the court using Certified Mail.

Feeling stressed by the process? Don't sweat it! Let SoloSuit create, review, and submit your Answer electronically in just 15 minutes.

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection Guides for Other States

Guides for other states

All 50 states.