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

George Simons

May 19, 2020

Summary: Live in Ohio and need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit? Our automated service guides Ohio residents through the process.

“Man, I can't wait for this collector to sue me already!” — said no one ever.

No one likes getting sued for a debt. It is important that if you are sued you take the appropriate legal measures to protect yourself. Make sure that you open and read all court documents and documents sent to you by the plaintiff's attorney. Do not ignore these documents, or the summons and complaint itself.

This article makes the process of responding to a debt lawsuit a little bit easier and tells you how to answer a summons for debt collection in Ohio.

Below, you'll find helpful topics on how to answer a summons for debt collection in the Buckeye State, Ohio. This list includes information specific to filing in Ohio, like Ohio deadlines and forms.

Table of Contents

Ohio Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

28 days. According to the Ohio revised code, you only have 28 days to file an Answer with the court after you're served the Summons and Complaint, according to Rule 12(a)(1). These are calendar days, not business days. If the 28th day is on a weekend or national holiday, you should make sure your answer is filed no later than the last business day before the deadline.

It is vital that you do not miss this deadline. Failure to file an Answer will result in a default judgement against you. If you want the opportunity to argue your case in court, you must answer the summons within the 28-day time frame.

If you do not dispute the debt, but instead agree with the amount, and agree that you had an obligation to pay the amount, you do not necessarily need to file an answer. If you do not file the Answer, the plaintiff will win a default judgement against you. If you want to dispute any part of the lawsuit, or if you want to assert your own claims, you will need to file the Answer and appear in court to make your case.

You should also file an Answer and appear in court if you want to make a case against garnishment, in the event a judgement against you is made.

Don't put off filing this Answer until the last minute. You should allow a few extra days in case there are complications in the process. You will have to present a copy of this Answer to the other party's attorney or representative as well.

Your Answer must contain specific information in a specific format. If you are unsure that you are able to create an Answer document that meets the court's requirements, SoloSuit can do it for you. With SoloSuit you can generate your Answer in 15 minutes and we'll even have an attorney review it and file it for you.

Ohio Answer to Summons Forms

There are a few Answer forms available for Ohio debt collection lawsuits.

  • SoloSuit. This is the best option if you are looking for an easy and accurate option.
  • Answer Form. This is Ohio's general answer form for civil lawsuits like debt collection cases. Unfortunately, it doesn't help you assert your affirmative defenses.
  • Answer form for Ashtabula County. If you are in Ashtabula County, you will need to use this instead.

Your Answer has to be formatted a certain way and include certain information. The information you include, or exclude, in your Answer will have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.

SoloSuit helps you make your Answer on your own.

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in Ohio

To begin the lawsuit, the plaintiff will serve you with two documents either by mail or in person. These documents are called the Summons and Complaint. In Ohio, you have only 28 days to respond by filing an Answer. You can respond with either an Answer document or a Motion; usually, you'll want to respond with an Answer document.

If you don't respond within the 28 day period, you will automatically lose your case by default judgment.

There are three steps to respond to the complaint.

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

Let's check out each step.

1. Create an Answer Document.

As soon as possible after you receive the summons and complaint you need to create your answer document. This way if you run into complications or questions you have time to sort it out before you reach the filing deadline of 28 days.

When you create your answer document, you must include specific information in a specific format at the top of your document. All of this information can be found on the complaint and summons. This information includes:

  • Your name and address, as well as the name of your attorney of record if applicable.
  • The same information for the plaintiff.
  • Information identifying the court including the name and location of the court.
  • Identifying information for the case, such as a case number.

Other information you may need to pull from the original documents you were served include:

  • The amount of the lawsuit
  • The claims being made by the plaintiff
  • Any other remedies the plaintiff is requesting

It is important to make sure that the styling of the Answer document is according to court guidelines. If this information is not listed fully and in the correct format it could cause your Answer to be rejected.

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

Developing the Answer to the complaint can be daunting, but with Solosuit and these simple tips it will be easy as pie.

The plaintiff's complaint will be formulated as a series of numbered paragraphs. Reading each paragraph carefully, determine how you want to answer. In your answer you will respond to each paragraph by number.

Respond with whether or not you agree with the statement made by the plaintiff, or if you don't know whether the complaint is reasonable and accurate and need more information about the debt. Debt collectors must provide proof of the debt upon request.

Many attorneys recommend making a general denial, where you deny everything in the complaint and force the other side to prove everything. You will also need to let the court know if you want a court trial or a jury trial. You can also include information about your counterclaim, if applicable. Use the Ohio form and follow its instructions, or let Solosuit do the work for you with review by an attorney to ensure accuracy.

If you have any questions about whether or not you are completing the Answer correctly, you should have the document created for you. When you use Solosuit, the work is done for you and all you have to do is fill in the blanks.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

“Affirmative defenses” are your reasons for why the case should be dismissed either in full or in part. You can use your defenses to show that the plaintiff doesn't have a case at all, or that the remedy they are seeking is unreasonable or inaccurate. Wrongdoing by the plaintiff may also be an appropriate defense.

Some of the most common defenses to a lawsuit to collect a debt include:

  • You are not the owner or a cosigner on the account, and the lawsuit is in error.
  • The contract was cancelled before goods or services were delivered.
  • The statute of limitations, or how long a creditor has to seek remedy, has expired.
  • You have proof that the debt was paid in part or in full, or excused by the creditor.
  • You were not informed of your rights and responsibilities as a cosigner.
  • You did not agree to the contract or debt, such as in identity theft or scams.

There are a few defenses that you should steer clear of, including an inability to pay the debt, dissatisfaction with the product or services provided, or personal situations that affect finances such as divorce.

If you feel that you are entitled to compensation for wrongdoing by the plaintiff, you would make these claims as a counterclaim in your Answer. The provided form has sections for counterclaims. If developing your own Answer document you would make counterclaims after affirmative defenses.

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

It is easy to get sidetracked with life and fail to follow through on tasks. You should not allow filing your answer to be one of those tasks that falls through the cracks. If you need to, set a reminder on your smartphone so that you can handle the matter when you have time. Just make sure that you are filing your answer well before the 28 day deadline.

When you file your answer you can do so either in person or by certified or express mail. It is generally recommended to file in person with the court clerk so that if there are any issues with your Answer you can address them before the deadline.

In addition to filing your answer with the courts, you also must provide the plaintiff or their attorney with a copy of your Answer. This copy too must be either hand delivered or sent by priority or express mail.

It is important that if you use mail you use the certified or express options. The reason for this is that when you use one of these services the mail must be signed for, which gives you the proof that they received the copy within the 28 day Answer period.

Solosuit can send out your answer by overnight mail.

Alternatively, you can file the court's copy in person with the clerk. You can also have the Answer delivered to the plaintiff in person if you so choose. If you are close to the 28-day deadline, filing in person or overnight mail may be necessary to ensure the case doesn't end in a default judgement.

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 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

Includes:
Response to Complaint
Affirmative Defenses
PDF Answer
Filing
Status Updates
Debt Collection Attorney Review
100% Online

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 Ohio

The statute of limitations is the deadline or expiration date on your debt. It is a law that says for how many years a collector can collect on the debt. Once the deadline has passed, they can no longer collect. Here is a list of the deadline for each type of debt.

Ohio Statute of Limitations on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

6

Written

8

Promissory

15

Open

6

Credit Card

6

Judgements

21


Source: Findlaw


Let's consider an example. Willy has a credit card debt, and the last time he made a payment towards the debt was eight years ago. A debt collector tries to sue him for the debt. In this case, the statute of limitations has expired and Willy needs to bring that up as an affirmative defense.

Ohio Legal Aid Organizations

Every state has at least one government-funded organization that provides free legal services to people. Ohio has several. You can contact these legal services for assistance with debt collection lawsuits if you are unable to afford an attorney to represent you.

Each agency will have their own requirements for qualification for their free or discounted legal services. You will need to contact the agencies or visit their website for details to learn if they will be able to help with your particular case.

Here are the legal aid agencies available in Ohio:

Community Legal Aid Services, Inc.
50 South Main Street
Akron, OH 44308
(866) 584-2350
http://www.communitylegalaid.org

Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.
525 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 400
Toledo, OH 43604
(877) 894-4599
http://www.lawolaw.org

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
1223 West Sixth Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 687-1900
http://www.lasclev.org

Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
215 East Ninth Street, Suite 200
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(800) 582-2682
http://lascinti.org

Ohio State Legal Services
1108 City Park Avenue, Suite 200
Columbus, OH 43206
(800) 589-5888
https://www.oslsa.org

Some legal aid services are provided by geographical area. If there is a legal aid organization in your city, you should start there in your search for a pro bono attorney. If you contact an agency that cannot help you due to your primary address, they should be able to refer you to the correct agency for your area.

Every creditor, big or small, working to collect a debt must adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in Ohio. If you believe that a creditor has violated these guidelines, you should talk to the attorney about a possible counterclaim in your Answer and how to file an official complaint against the creditor. There are also steps you can take to keep them from calling and harassing you from different phone numbers during the process.

Key Takeaways

This article has a lot of information, so let's summarize what you need to do to respond to your summons for debt collection in Ohio.

  • Deadline: The deadline to file your Answer to a summons and complaint is 28 days, with few exceptions. You must file your Answer with the court and provide a copy to the plaintiff or their attorney by this deadline.
  • If you would like help formulating your Answer, use Solosuit.com services to ensure accuracy. You can also use the Ohio online form that is available.

Do these steps when formulating your Answer:

  1. Answer each issue in the complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File and serve the Answer.

Don't forget to mark your calendars with your court dates so that you can appear and defend yourself against the claims of the plaintiff. If you are disputing any part of the claims, make sure that you gather all of your evidence prior to your court date. The judge or court clerk may give you additional instruction based on your situation and the case at hand.

Once the case is disposed and judgement has been made, you can begin working on rebuilding your credit after a debt lawsuit. Good Luck!

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

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