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

Eva Bacevice

July 10, 2020

Summary: Live in West Virginia and need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit? You can use SoloSuit to guide West Virginia residents quickly and easily through the process.

It's fair to say that life today is already pretty stressful. Finding out that you're being sued for debt collection may feel like more than you can handle on top of everything else. If you're already struggling to make ends meet, chances are there isn't any extra money available to hire an attorney. It can be intimidating to think about responding on your own and all too tempting to just ignore it altogether. Ignoring it, however, won't make it go away. All that does is guarantee that you will lose the case.

Responding on your own to a debt collection lawsuit in West Virginia doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming. In this article, we will walk you through the process for how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit to hopefully make the process just a little easier. This article will include information specific to West Virginia, including West Virginia deadliness and court documents to help you through the process.

Table of Contents

West Virginia Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

A debt collection lawsuit itself begins when the plaintiff (the party trying to collect the debt) files and serves a Summons and Complaint against you (the defendant.) The clock starts on this legal action as of the filing date on the Summons and Complaint that you receive. In West Virginia you have 20 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit. It is very important to make sure that your response is filed in the Court before this deadline expires.

If you fail to respond during the allowed timeframe, the plaintiff (your creditor, or, more often, a third-party debt collection company who purchased the debt from your original creditor, like NCC debt collection) will ask the Court for a default judgment. This request will be granted if you didn't respond before the deadline, and will result in the plaintiff obtaining a court judgment against you stating that they are entitled to use legal methods to collect the debt from you. This means you've lost your opportunity to refute any of the allegations they claimed against you (such as the amount of the debt or the opportunity to agree to a payment plan) and that they can use this court order to garnish your wages. With a wage-order garnishment they can take money out of your paycheck before you even see it. A garnishment can also allow debt collection from your West Virginia state tax return, either instead of or in addition to your paycheck. Chances are high that this will result in a worse financial situation than where you started.

Obviously we want to avoid this scenario. The single best thing you can do to protect yourself in a debt collection lawsuit is to make certain that you file a response before the 20 day deadline expires. In this article, we will walk you through exactly how to do it.

West Virginia Answer to Summons Forms

You can use SoloSuit to respond to your West Virginia debt collection lawsuit. After you answer a few online questions about your situation we can take it from there. SoloSuit will translate your answers into the proper legalese and format to file with the court on your behalf

If you prefer to do it on your own and your case is in Magistrate Court you can use this Answer Form from the West Virginia court system. The Magistrate Court has jurisdiction over civil cases like debt collection where the financial amount in dispute is less than ten-thousand dollars. If the debt exceeds ten-thousand dollars you will instead be in Circuit Court. The West Virginia Circuit Court, unfortunately, does not offer an online form, so you will need to draft and format your own response according to local court rules, which we will go over below.

Luckily, as the defendant, figuring out which court is appropriate for your case isn't something that you need to determine. That responsibility is on the filing party, the plaintiff. This means that in terms of your response you can simply rely on the court information already listed in your Summons and Complaint.

Answer Filing Fees for West Virginia

West Virginia Court Fees

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in West Virginia

As discussed above, a West Virginia debt collection lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a Summons and Complaint against you. As the defendant you only have a limited time to respond with either an Answer or a Motion. In West Virginia this time period is only 20 days.

To avoid a default judgment against you, you need to make certain to file your response with the Court before the 20 day deadline. You have the option to respond with an Answer or a Motion. Motions require a deeper understanding of the court rules and procedures and can get complicated pretty quickly. As such, those are best to use only with the assistance of legal counsel. An Answer document, is a sufficient response to file on your own behalf, and can be completed by following the below four steps:

  1. Create an Answer document
  2. Answer each issue of the complaint
  3. Assert affirmative defenses
  4. File one copy of the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with another copy.

We will go over each step in the process in detail below.

1. Create an Answer Document.

Your first task is to complete an Answer document. If your case is in Magistrate Court, you can simply fill in the relevant information in the Court's online Answer Form. If that is the case, you can add in the necessary information on the online court form from the information in the caption of your Summons and Complaint. Remember, the plaintiff already had to do the heavy lifting to determine the appropriate court for this case. You can just use the information they provide to designate the proper county at the top, as well as both plaintiff (them) and defendant (you) information. The case was assigned an official Case Number when it was filed, which you can copy directly into the form.

If your case is in Circuit Court, you will need to create and properly format your own Answer document. This includes creating and formatting your own caption, which again is essentially transcribing the information from your Summons and Complaint in your own document. This will include the same details as above: The name of the Court, Court County/Division, plaintiff and defendant information as the official case number.

Once you have your Answer form created and properly formatted, you can move on to the next step to address the allegations against you.

SoloSuit makes it easy to find the right information.

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

To properly answer the Complaint you need to address each and every separate issue set forth in the Complaint.

If your case is in Magistrate Court you can continue with the online form. The online Answer form provided by the West Virginia Court system consolidates your responses into one of three check-boxes; admitting the matters set forth in the complaint, denying the matters set forth in the complaint, or admitting in part and denying in part the matters set forth in the complaint. It's most likely that you would check the third box, as some information, if correct, can be admitted to easily (like name or account number) and other allegations (such as the amount of the debt) may be contested.

If your case is in Circuit Court you will need to draft your own Answer to respond to each numbered paragraph in the Complaint separately. You should respond to each paragraph in one of the following three ways:

  • Admit
  • Deny
  • I don't know

SoloSuit makes it simple to respond the right way.

You should be certain that your responses are numbered the same as the allegations against you, for easy reference. The third response is appropriate for matters you cannot independently verify, such as incorporation information about the plaintiff's company.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

In your Answer you can also assert any relevant affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is any reason that you can state which shows that the plaintiff doesn't have a case. Feel free to include each and every affirmative defense that applies to your situation.

If you are using the online form you can check the box next to “raising defense(s) explained below” and use the additional space to flesh out your defense. If you are in Circuit Court you can set for all affirmative defenses following your responses to the allegations in the Complaint.

With SoloSuit you can make the right affirmative defenses the right way.

Some of the more common affirmative defenses are briefly discussed below, but this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Payment: If you can prove that you already paid the debt then that should end the lawsuit immediately.
  • Accord and satisfaction: If you came to an agreement with the creditor to pay a lesser amount to satisfy the debt in full satisfaction, they, or an entity on their behalf cannot continue to try to collect. Here you can reference and attach any supporting documentation such as bank records showing a cashed check or online payment, or any correspondence between you and the creditor regarding a lower payment.
  • The debt was already discharged in a bankruptcy. If you have an order of discharge from a previous bankruptcy which included this debt, then the plaintiff cannot try to collect it through the Court.
  • Statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for legal action. We will discuss the West Virginia statute of limitations on debt collection in more detail later in this article.

Beyond affirmative defenses you can also assert counterclaims against the plaintiff. There is a section for this in the online form as well. This is most appropriate if they are violating West Virginia debt collection laws. West Virginia follows the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and goes beyond it with it's own fair debt collections practices act in West Virginia, called the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA.) The WVCCPA allows consumers to make the debt collector pay for their reasonable attorney fees and court costs, and could even force criminal charges for willful violation. Please keep in mind that credit harassment allegations can get very complicated and would be best handled by an attorney. Additionally (or alternatively) you can take the opportunity to file a complaint against a debt collection company here with the West Virginia Attorney General complaint form.

4. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Your final step is to print out and file your response with the Court. Make sure to file your Answer with the Court within the 20 day timeframe.

Here's all you need to do to file your answer.

  • Print at least two copies of your Answer
  • Mail one copy to the court
  • Mail the other copy to the plaintiff's attorney.

SoloSuit files for you.

If possible, print an extra copy for your own records. If you're using the Magistrate Court's online form make sure to fill out the “Certificate of Service” portion at the end of the form.

What is SoloSuit?

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

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you 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 West Virginia

The West Virginia statute of limitations on debt varies between four to ten years, depending on the type of debt. Both medical debt and credit card debt have a ten-year statute of limitations on debt collection in West Virginia, whereas the time period for auto loans is four years. Finally, the West Virginia statute of limitations for state tax debt runs for five years. Once the applicable period has passed in the West Virginia statute of limitations on debt collection the creditor can no longer pursue collection efforts against you through the legal system.

West Virginia Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

5

Written

10

Mortgage

6

Open

5

Credit Card

10

Auto Loan

4

Medical

10

Judgment

10


Source: Findlaw



All states have legal aid organizations, some of which are government-funded, to assist residents who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance. There are links below to some of these organizations in West Virginia:

Legal Aid of West Virginia

Legal Aid of West Virginia Consumer Self-Help Resources

State of West Virginia Veterans Assistance

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid

West Virginia Court Locations

West Virginia Court Locations

Key Takeaways

So, in short, here's the review on how to answer a summons for debt collection in West Virginia.

Make certain you know the deadline and complete the process before it expires. West Virginia debt collection regulations allow 20 days to file your response.

Make certain you are using the proper West Virginia Answer form/format, or SoloSuit.com, to draft your response. When you fill out the form complete the following three steps:

  1. Answer each issue in the complaint.
  2. Assert any and all of your affirmative defenses.
  3. File and serve the Answer with the Court and the plaintiff's attorney.

Good Luck!

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

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.