Summary: Are you being sued for an old debt in New York? Find out how to make a defense using the statute of limitations and win your case.
According to the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, the total household debt for New Yorkers in the second quarter of 2021 has reached a record $14.96 trillion. This is partly due to the growth in mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances.
If you're a New York resident worried about an old debt, it's essential to know that laws are protecting you from creditor harassment. In some cases, debt collectors seek repayment of an alleged unpaid debt after the statute of limitations has expired. The statute of limitations is a finite period that creditors or collection agencies can sue a debtor or request collection for debt.
After the statute of limitations expires, the creditor no longer has the power to file a lawsuit against you or contact you regarding an outstanding debt.
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How long is a debt legally enforceable in New York?
In New York, the law that governs the statute of limitations states that a creditor has up to six years to seek repayment for a debt. After this time elapses, the creditor can't sue a debtor to collect the debt.
However, some creditors may try to sue you after the expiration of the statute of limitations. You can use the statute of limitations on debt collections as a defense to avoid paying a time-barred debt.
What you need to know about the statute of limitations in New York
If you're the debtor, it's the duty of the creditor to know whether the statute of limitations has run out. If the statute of limitations has expired, the creditor must do the following:
- Inform you that the statute of limitations has expired.
- Inform you that you don't have to acknowledge owing the debt.
- Provide you with information that proves prior settlement of the debt.
- Let you know that the statute of limitations may restart if you acknowledge owing the debt, promise to pay the debt, or pay part of the debt.
Statute of limitations for different types of debt collection cases
The statute of limitations in New York varies from one debt collection case to another. Below are different types of debt collections cases and their statute of limitations:
- The statute of limitations for the plaintiff to collect alimony, maintenance, and child support is 20 years.
- You have up to four years to recover payment for a rent overcharge from the time of the first rent overcharge.
- The statute of limitations for the plaintiff to recover damages for injury to personal property, chattels, personal property except for real estate, and damage for malpractice claims except medical or dental malpractice is three years.
- Breach of contract lawsuits, e.g., cases involving credit card debt, have a set statute of limitations of six years.
- As of April 3, 2020, debt collection lawsuits commenced by hospitals and health care professionals should be initiated within three years of treatment.
New York Statute of Limitations
Deadline in Years
Debt on Account
However, there are circumstances where New York's statute of limitations doesn't apply for debt-collection lawsuits. For instance, if the cause of action that triggered the collection suit arose in another state other than New York, then the statute of limitations of the other state would be applicable.
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What to do if a creditor files a lawsuit against you after the statute of limitations expires
New York has various laws that protect you from creditor intimidation. For instance, if the statute of limitations has expired and a creditor seeks repayment of an old debt, you can file a report against them to the Office of the New York State Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.
If the creditor sues you for debt collection, it's always advisable to file an answer to the court as soon as you receive the collection lawsuit. Filing an answer is a way of telling the court your defenses or reasons why the creditor shouldn't win the case. You can either file an answer in person to the court clerk at the courthouse or write it down and send it to the court clerk.
Filing the answer in person means that you'll go to the court and speak to the court clerk at the counter. The court clerk will then fill out the Answer in Person form based on what you tell them and give you a copy.
Ensure the clerk wrote down everything you said correctly in the Answer in Person form before leaving the courthouse. After that, the court clerk will send a copy of the Answer in Person form to the plaintiff.
Note that you'll need to file an answer within a stipulated period depending on how the plaintiff served you with the court summons:
- If the plaintiff served you with a summons in person, then you'll have 20 days to file an answer.
- If the plaintiff served you with a summons by other means such as mail, gave them to someone who lives in your home, or left them on your door, then you'll have 30 days to respond to the summons.
Suppose you don't want to go through the trouble of filing an answer to the court. In that case, SoloSuit comes in handy.
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SoloSuit is a step-by-step web app that can help you create a legally acceptable answer in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is answer the questions asked, and the software will generate an answer document for you.
You can either print the document and file it yourself or pay SoloSuit a small fee to file it for you. If you choose the latter, SoloSuit will have a qualified attorney review the document and ensure it meets all the legal requirements. After that, the Answer document will be delivered to the court and the plaintiff.
After confirming that you're being sued for a time-barred debt, you shouldn't acknowledge or agree to pay part of the debt. This is because the statute of limitations begins when the course of action arises. For this reason, if you partially repay a time-barred debt, this action might restart the statute of limitations for the creditor.
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
>>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
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