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How to Find Out If You're Being Sued

Chloe Meltzer | July 21, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: If you think you're being sued, but you never received a court Summons and Complaint, you can search for cases online by your name. You can also call the court clerk and have them search for cases involving you. If you are being sued by a debt collector, SoloSuit can help you make your own response in just 15 minutes.

Who is suing me?

This might be a question you end up asking yourself, like millions of other Americans each year. When a lawsuit is filed against you, you should receive a Summons and Complaint (usually in the mail). These are court documents that notify you of the lawsuit and outline how much you supposedly owe. Despite this, you might be sued without ever knowing.

Whether someone handed the Summons to a person in your home, or it was mailed to you at the wrong address, the debt collector or creditor may not have served you properly. If you believe that a lawsuit may have been placed against you without your knowledge, there are steps you can take to find out.

In this article, we discuss how to find out if a lawsuit has been filed against you and how to find out who is suing you. Let's get started.

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Look up your case online if you think you are being sued

If you think you are being sued, you can look up your case information online in most states by searching your full name. Most states have a statewide court case search tool that can help you find all the information regarding your case, including who is suing you, the documents that have been filed into the case, any scheduled hearings or trials, and the deadline for you to respond to the lawsuit.

The table below has court case lookup tools for almost all 50 states. If there is no lookup tool for your state, try searching for your county's courthouse website (many courthouse websites have a case lookup tool).

50 States Court Case Lookup Tools

State Lookup Tool
Alabama Unavailable: check county website
Alaska Alaska Case Search
Arkansas Arkansas Case search
Arizona Arizona Case Search
California CA County Case Search
*Statewide tool anavailable
Colorado Colorado Case Search
Connecticut Connecticut Case Search
Delaware Delaware Case Search
Florida Florida Case Search
Georgia Georgia Case Search
Hawaii Hawaii Case Search
Idaho Idaho Case Search
Illinois Illinois Case Search
Indiana Indiana Case Search
Iowa Iowa Case Search
Kansas Kansas Case Search
Kentucky Kentucky Case Search
Louisiana Unavailable: check county website
Maine Maine Case Search
Maryland Maine Case Search
Massachusetts Massachusetts Case Search
Michigan Michigan Case Search
Minnesota Minnesota Case Search
Mississippi Mississippi Case Search
(Supreme Court cases only)
Missouri Missouri Case Search
Montana Montana Case Search
Nebraska Nebraska Case Search
Nevada Unavailable: check county website
New Hampshire New Hampshire Case Search
New Jersery Unavailable: check county website
New Mexico New Mexico Case Search
New York New York Case Search
North Carolina Unavailable: call courthouse
North Dakota North Dakota Case Search
Ohio Unavailable: check county website
Oregon Oregon Case Search
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Case Search
Rhode Island Rhode Island Case Search
South Carolina South Carolina Case Search
South Dakota South Dakota Case Search
Tennessee Tennessee Case Search
(Supreme Court/Court of Appeals only)
Texas Unavailable: check county website
Utah Unavailable: call courthouse
Vermont Vermont Case Search
Virginia Virginia Case Search
Washington Washington Case Search
West Virginia Unavailable: check county website
Wisconsin Wisconsin Court Search
Wyoming Wyoming Case Search

Visit the court clerk

If you can't find your case online, you can pay a visit to your court clerk to do some investigating at the courthouse. This should be the court in your county of residence where the court clerk can conduct a record search for any pending lawsuits or judgments.

At the courthouse, explain your situation to the clerk and have them search your name in the court records. If there is a case filed against you, the court clerk can give you the following information:

  • Name of the plaintiff (also known as the person or company suing you)
  • Court case number
  • Amount you owe
  • Interest that's been added to the bill
  • Future hearings or trials you must attend to fight the case

The clerk should also be able to explain whether or not the judge has ordered a default judgment against you, which would give the person or company suing you the right to garnish your wages or put a lien against your property.

What if I was never served a Summons?

It is not uncommon for debt collectors to sue someone for a debt and never actually serve them the Summons and Complaint. There are many reasons why this might happen.

For example, the Summons could have been sent to the wrong address or an old address. It may have been lost in the mail, or perhaps the process gave it to someone else unknowingly. They may have even handed the Summons to one of your family members who forgot to give it to you.

Regardless of the reason, improper service of a Summons can cause major issues for the person being sued, especially considering they must respond within a deadline in order to fight back against the case.

Each state has specific laws on how to properly serve a Summons and Complaint. While each state has unique rules, there are some general rules that apply to most states:

  • The Summons must be served within a set number of days from the time it was filed with the court.
  • The Summons must be served to an individual other than an infant or an incompetent person.
  • The Summons must be served to the individual being sued personally or left at their house with some of suitable discretion.
  • The Summons must be served by someone who is 18 years or older.

To learn more about service laws in your state, check out this 50-State Chart on Standard Service of Process.

If you are being sued, but you were never properly notified about the lawsuit, you can use this as a defense in your case.

Respond to a debt collection lawsuit in 15 minutes with SoloSuit.

Use improper service as an affirmative defense if you have a lawsuit pending

If a lawsuit has been filed against you but there has not been a default judgment issued, you are in luck. You will need to move quickly to respond to the lawsuit, because you only have up to 35 days to respond, depending on where you live.

The first step to responding to a debt lawsuit is to draft and file a written Answer. Your Answer should focus on responding to the claims listed in the Complaint document and asserting your affirmative defense.

You can admit, deny, or deny due to lack of knowledge when you respond to each claim. Denying will give you the strongest case, as it forces the opposing party to prove their claims.

As for your affirmative defenses, these are reasons that the other side's case is invalid and they shouldn't win. There are several defenses you can include in your Answer to present a strong case, including improper service. Below is a list of common affirmative defenses to use in a debt collection lawsuit:

  • Improper service of the summons: Stating that the summons was not delivered nor received by you.
  • Identify theft: If you believe someone generated the debt while pretending to be you.
  • Expiration of the statute of limitations: Debts are considered time-barred when the statute of limitations has expired. The period depends on the state you live in but typically ranges from three to five years. When the statute expires, it means that you can no longer be sued for the debt at its expiration.
  • Lack of standing: There is no legal explanation or proof that you owe the debt.
  • Debt has been satisfied: If you believe that you have already paid the debt, then you should not be able to be sued for it again.
  • The amount is incorrect: If you believe that the debt amount is incorrect, then you can ask for proof of the correct amount.
  • Missing Paperwork: If the debt collector does not have the chain of custody, then they cannot prove that they own the debt and that you owe it.

Make the right affirmative defense the right way with SoloSuit.

Learn more about how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in this video:

If you have received a default judgment

If the court clerk informs you that there is a default judgment against you already, then you need to act. If you were never actually served, then you will need to file a Motion to Set Aside default judgment. In the motion, you should explain that you did not respond to the lawsuit in time because you were never properly served and notified of the case.

If the court grants your Motion to Set Aside judgment, you are given the opportunity to respond to the lawsuit again. You should respond by filing a written Answer to the Summons and Complaint, as discussed above.

If you discover that a default judgment has been placed against you and the judge is unwilling to throw it out, then you need to re-evaluate your situation. If you can, attempt to negotiate a settlement with the creditor or debt collector. This may allow you to settle the debt for less than you originally owed. Most judges will grant a Motion to Set Aside judgment, especially if they know you were never notified of the lawsuit.

Avoid a default judgment by filing an Answer with SoloSuit.

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.

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

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>>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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