Dena Standley | September 16, 2022
Summary: If you're being sued for a debt in Alabama, you can check your court case online for a fee or visit your courthouse for free. Staying up to date with your case will help you increase your chances of winning, but the first step to winning is to use SoloSuit to respond to the lawsuit.
Are you wondering if a debt collector has sued you? Did you receive a Summons? Or are you trying to track a previous court case? Fortunately, in Alabama, court records are generally considered public records (unless stated otherwise).
Shouldn't you have all the case details without searching? Ideally, yes. But situations exist that may require you to go through court records in order to check your case status. Perhaps the Summons was delivered to the wrong address, or they served someone in your household other than you with the court papers. Many times, though, it's the result of negligence. You receive a court Summons but are so stressed that you keep pushing it out of your mind. By the time you come around to facing the issue, the hearing date has passed. And panic mode sets in.
You may have already responded to the Summons, and you want to check the status of your case. Here is everything you need to know about how to check the status of your case in Alabama, what tools you can use to stay updated, and how to respond to a civil lawsuit in Alabama.
But first, let's discuss Alabama's civil court structure.
In order to find your case information online or in person, it's important to understand how the civil courts are structured in Alabama. When you know what courts have jurisdiction over certain types of cases, it will be easier for you to narrow down the court to which your case is assigned. In Alabama, there are four levels of courts that deal with civil cases:
The Supreme Court of Alabama handles cases that have appealed and involved $50,000 or more. Similarly, Alabama's Court of Civil Appeals deals with cases that have been appealed but range from $0-$50,000. If someone disagrees with the outcome of their case, they can appeal and have it reconsidered by one of these two courts.
Alabama's Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over civil cases that involve $10,000 or more.
Your debt collection lawsuit will likely start at the District Court level, which has exclusive jurisdiction over small claims civil cases of up to $3,000. The District Court also hears civil claims of up to $10,000. There are a total of 67 district courts, one for each county.
The graphic below further illustrates how the civil courts are structured in Alabama:
Every court case is assigned a unique number. You can quickly access documents, motions, judgments, and other activities on the lawsuit with the number.
You may also know how much time you have to respond to the lawsuit by looking at the case number. The letters at the beginning of the number usually tell you in what type of court your case is filed. For example:
A court number is a combination of numbers and letters identifying the type of lawsuit, time of filing, etc. For example, DV-2022-900000.00 is the 900,000th District Court case filed in 2022.
If you lose the case number, you can search online using your name or other details on Alabama court access for $9.99. You can monitor the case through its duration for a $19.99 fee for a district case and $29.99 for a circuit case.
Don't ignore the lawsuit if you know or suspect that someone is suing you. Pretending that it does not exist can only make matters worse. The judge may issue a default judgment against you. You could suffer wage garnishment, frozen bank accounts, or property liens until you pay the debt. A judgment lien is attached to your property for ten years in Alabama, whether you sell or still own it.
After a judgment, you may nott be able to dispute the error, even if it was a mistake or had errors. So, be quick to find your lawsuit by using one of the options below.
Below is a guide to how these options work.
Currently, there is no free option available to search for court case updates and records online in Alabama. Some states offer free tools online, but in order to check your Alabama court case from home, you must use Just One Look: Access To Alabama State Trial Court Records. Below, we explain how the fees work for this online tool.
With Alabama's Just One Look tool, you can search for civil and small claims cases online for a fee. It costs $9.99 to look up a case by name or case number. This fee gets you access to a case detail report, which includes basic case information, court action, case status, setting dates, party information, financial history, and a detailed case action summary.
If you want to download images of the court records, you must pay $5.00 for the first 20 pages and $0.50 per page thereafter.
Just One Look also provides access to criminal records, state traffic records, domestic relations cases, and child support cases.
It's possible to get the details of a case from the court clerk. You may call the court or visit them at their office. Most clerks are willing to help out if you can give them some information about your case: case number, party names, etc.
This option is convenient if you know where your case is filed. However, even if you only suspect that there's a case, the clerk can confirm or dispel those suspicions. You will be able to know the plaintiff's name, why they are suing, and important dates for your case.
Use this Alabama Courts Directory to find your courthouse online. Just click on the county in which you live, and your court website will open where you can locate the courthouse address and clerk contact information.
The US Courts website has a valuable tool called the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). It provides electronic records of public federal cases.
To use PACER, you need to create an account. Once registered, you can find any public case with a simple search on the website. Simply log in and use your preferred method to find any details available to the public. You can find the lawsuit by searching in the federal court where it was filed or using the nationwide index.
While PACER is not free, it's generally affordable. It will cost you ten cents per page to view court documents. The cost of a single document is capped at $3. Some would argue that that's more convenient than in-person visits to the court clerk. The website also has a user-friendly guide to finding cases if you don't know the case number.
There are other privately owned websites. We advise discretion when entering your information into these sites.
Once you confirm that someone is suing you, respond immediately. Even if the court proceedings started in your absence, you might be able to defend yourself. The court allows for permissible negligence like summons sent to wrong addresses. It may also be a case of identity theft.
If you find your case in good time, you shouldn't waste more time. SoloSuit can help you prepare your own legal Answer document that's acceptable in court. Answer the questions to create your personalized Answer in minutes. You can print and mail your answer. Alternatively, you can pay SoloSuit an affordable fee to file the Answer for you and have an attorney review it.
After you file the Answer, explore other options to fight debt collectors. You can use SoloSuit's Motion to Compel Arbitration to avoid going to court. You can also try negotiating a settlement offer with the collector by sending a Debt Lawsuit Settlement Letter. Both of these options will help you stay away from the courtroom, which can be intimidating and stressful.
You can quickly find present, scheduled, and past cases by checking online or visiting your court clerk. Remember to respond promptly to a debt lawsuit to avoid losing by default.
SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
"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
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.
Here's a list of guides for other states.
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Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.