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How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Maine (2023 Guide)

George Simons | December 06, 2023

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD-MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: You have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Maine before you lose automatically by default judgment. In order to respond before the deadline, you must draft and file a written Answer to the Summons and Complaint. In your Answer, you must respond to each claim against you and assert your affirmative defenses. Then, you must file the Answer with the court and send a copy to the opposing attorney. SoloSuit can help you with all these steps and more.

Many of us ignore debts that we are unable to pay or believe we do not owe. Especially if a debt collector is particularly aggressive such as with Covington, or typically block their phone number, it becomes increasingly tempting to ignore their communications entirely.

But sometimes ignoring a debt can land you in a courtroom. If you are sued by a debt collector, it is important that you know exactly how to respond and what your rights are so that you can successfully navigate the legal system.

There are two ways you can be sued for debt collection in the state of Maine. If the amount is $6,000 or less, the creditor or bill collector may be able to file in the Small Claims court. Small claims does not require that you file anything with the courts. You simply go to court at the date and time listed on the papers you were served with all of your evidence and state your case.

The second way that debt collectors can sue you is through the District Court. If they go through this court system, you will receive a Complaint and Summons that includes important information about why you are being sued, the amount owed that they are claiming, the original creditor, and their requests to the court.

If you are sued by a debt collector in the District Court, you must take swift action to respond or you will lose your ability to argue your case in court. The Answer to a Complaint and Summons is an important document to your case, and you want to make sure that you get it right.

Here is some important information for how to file an Answer in Maine with or without assistance.

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Maine Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

20 days - You only have 20 days to file an Answer with the court after you're served the Summons and Complaint, according to Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 12.

The Summons and Complaint will be served to you in person by a deputy or process server. These documents tell you when and where to be at court, who is suing you, why you are being sued, and the amount for which you are being sued. If you are being sued by a debt collector company, the complaint should also include information for the original creditor.

How you respond to the Summons and Complaint will determine how your case moves forward. If you ignore these documents and do not file an Answer with the court within 20 days of being served the Complaint, a default judgment could be filed against you, and you'll lose. If you respond quickly enough, you will be able to defend yourself in court.

You don't need to file an Answer if you agree with the debt and its circumstances. However, you do need to file an Answer and go to court if:

  • You don't believe you owe the debt.
  • You believe the creditor violated the contract or the Maine Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • You agree with the circumstances of the debt, but not the amount.
  • You have evidence that you have already paid the debt in full, in part, or that it was settled for a lower amount.

There may be additional reasons that you want to make sure you get your day in court. Basically any time you want to give input about the complaint of the plaintiff, you need to file an Answer and follow up by going to court with evidence as to your case.

If you want validation of the debt, you'll need to request that in discovery before your case goes to a hearing before a judge. Use this Maine Discovery form and have it filed with the court clerk and served to the plaintiff or their attorney. Debt validation letters will not be appropriate once you have been sued.

If you need assistance meeting the deadline or creating your Answer document for the courts, Solosuit is here to help. Our patented software will walk you through formulation of your Answer and help you get it filed on time.

In addition to filing a copy with the courts within the 20 day deadline, you also need to make sure that you have mailed a copy to the plaintiff and/or their attorney.

Maine Answer to Summons Forms

Your Answer to Summons and Complaint must contain specific elements, including:

  • Court, case, and party information
  • Your response to each paragraph listed in the documents you received
  • Your Affirmative Defenses listing why you do not believe you owe the debt

If your Answer is not in the correct format, contains the wrong information, or is missing information, it may not be accepted even if you file it before the 20 day deadline. You may not want to attempt this from scratch on your own.

You can use SoloSuit's Answer form to respond to a civil lawsuit in Maine. All you need to do is input your information, answer some questions, and let the software do thework. You will be provided with a correctly formatted Answer document that you can submit to the courts.

If you want to do it on your own, you can use Maine's Sample Answer Form. This is Maine's general answer form for civil lawsuits like debt collection cases. Use it to respond to the Summons and Complaint. The downside to using this form is that you have limited space for listing your affirmative defenses if the ones on the form do not apply.

Answer Filing Fees for Maine

You do not need to pay any fees to file your Answer with the courts. You can hand deliver it to the court clerk, and it will cost you nothing. If you decide to send it to the court by mail, you'll need to pay for certified mail so that you will get confirmation that it was delivered and signed for before the deadline.

You will also have to send a copy to the plaintiff or their attorney. This copy must also be sent via certified or express mail.

Other than these postage fees, there is no cost to file an Answer in Maine.

SoloSuit files your Answer for you.

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in Maine

You should respond to a debt collection case in Maine as soon as possible after you receive the initial court papers, known as the Summons and Complaint. To respond, you must file an Answer with the courts. Here are the steps you need to take to respond to the debt collection lawsuit.

Your first step is to create the document in which you will formulate your answer. There is general information that has to be included on the Answer document in a specific format. This information can be pulled from the Summons and Complaint documents that you received.

The top of your Answer must include the district court, location, docket numbers, party names, and your personal name and address.

It must also be in the correct format. To get the right format, you can use the sample Maine forms above, or let the Solosuit software do all of the work for you, including formatting, translating your case information into the proper legal language, and more.

After you've got your Answer properly formatted, you're probably wondering what it should actually contain. Follow these three steps to draft an Answer document that will increase your chances of winning your debt lawsuit in Maine:

  1. Answer each claim listed in the Complaint.
  2. Assert affirmative defenses.
  3. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Below, we'll break down each of these steps in detail. Don't like reading? Watch this video instead:

1. Answer each claimed listed in the Complaint

Each issue of the complaint is listed by paragraph on the Complaint you received to start the process. You will need to answer each of these issues by referencing their paragraph number and responding in one of three ways:

  1. Admit.
  2. Deny.
  3. Deny due to lack of knowledge.

Most attorneys recommend denying as many claims as possible. Denying a claim will force the plaintiff to prove it. If they can't, they won't have a case. Denying due to lack of knowledge is like saying, "I don't know," and it also pushes the plaintiff to prove the clam.

SoloSuit makes it simple to respond the right way.

This is all you need to include in this section of the Answer document. Your reasons for your answer will be in the following section.

2. Assert affirmative defenses

Affirmative defenses are the legal reasons that you feel the plaintiff is not entitled to what they are asking. There are a lot of different reasons you might not legally be required to pay a debt. The most common affirmative defenses include:

  • The entity suing you is not the party that you entered into an agreement with, and there is no clear evidence that they have a right to collect on the debt.
  • The statute of limitations has expired, and court action is unlawful.
  • The original creditor was in violation of the contract or agreement.
  • The contract was voided by misconduct or violations of terms.
  • You are the victim of identity theft, and the entity failed to gather appropriate identification before creating the account.
  • You did not authorize creation of the account, or enter into a verbal, implied, or written contract with the entity.

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

There may be many other legal stances that may be a good defense for your position. It is important to note that not being able to afford to pay the debt is not an acceptable affirmative defense. Your counterclaims against the plaintiff can also be listed in your affirmative defenses section.

If you're not sure what to include in your affirmative defenses, getting the advice of an attorney may be helpful. But, if you are using Solosuit's powerful Answer document software, you can get some clarification on your affirmative defenses as you create your response.

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

Your final step is to file the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff or their attorney. You can hand deliver your Answer to the court clerk, or you can mail it to them. You can mail the copy to the Plaintiff and/or their attorney as well.

SoloSuit files for you.

If you choose to use the mail service, make sure you choose certified or express mail so that the recipient must sign for it and you will receive confirmation of delivery. This is important to ensure that you can prove you filed the Answer before the deadline.

If you are cutting it close to the deadline, you can mail your Answer to the courts using overnight mail service. If you are creating your Answer with SoloSuit, we can overnight the document to the court clerk for you.

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Maine

Like other states, Maine has laws that limit how long you can be sued for a debt. This restriction is called a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations on debt is six years in Maine, starting from the consumer's last action on the account.

If a debt is older than six years, the debt collector cannot sue you or file a civil action against you. If you are certain that the debt is past the Maine statute of limitations, this is an excellent affirmative defense on your Answer document.

However, the statute of limitations on a judgment is 20 years in Maine, meaning that if you are sued for a debt and lose, then the statute of limitations then becomes 20 years. That is a long time.

The table below further outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debt in Maine:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Maine

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Medical 6 years
Sudents Loan 6 years
Auto Loan 6 years
Mortgage 6 years
Personal Loan 6 years
Judgment 20 years
Me. Stat. tit. 14 § 752

Even if you think that you have everything under control, it is a good idea to get the advice of an attorney before proceeding. If you are not able to afford legal services, every state has at least one government-funded organization that provides free legal services to people just like you. Using a service like Solosuit to file your response documents will reduce the services you need going forward. There is one free legal service in the state of Maine.

Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc.

Key Takeaways

Even though you are being sued by a debt collector, you are never without rights. When you receive a Summons and Complaint, you have to protect those rights by responding with a formal, court-filed Answer. This Answer document doesn't have to be complicated or involved, but it does need to be in a certain format and include specific information and responses.

Solosuit makes developing your Maine Answer to a Summons and Complaint as easy as filling in the blanks and checking a few boxes. Whether you are using Solosuit or Maine's forms, the steps to filing your answer are:

  1. Answer each Complaint by paragraph number.
  2. State your Affirmative Defenses.
  3. File with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff's attorney.

Remember that the statute of limitations on debt is six years is Maine.

If all of this has been a wakeup call for your financial wellbeing, you might also consider a personal finance online course to help you get back on track and avoid future lawsuits.

Good luck!

What is SoloSuit?

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.

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

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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