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New York Case Search — Find Your Lawsuit

Dena Standley | August 24, 2023

Dena Standley
Legal Expert, Paralegal
Dena Standley, BA

Dena Standley is a seasoned paralegal with more than 20 years of experience in legal research and writing, having received a certification as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal from Southern Technical College.

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: When you get sued for debt in New York, you must respond with a written Answer or risk losing by default. After you’ve filed your Answer, it’s important to stay up-to-date on your case status. This will help you be prepared for your day in court and know how to make the best responses. Use SoloSuit to get debt collectors off your back today.

Being sued by a debt collector in New York can set you back financially. It also robs you of precious time as you think and plan how to handle the lawsuit. For instance, you must respond to the lawsuit, pay applicable filing fees, and spend time preparing for court because hiring a lawyer could do more harm to your financial situation. New York has made it easy for you to follow up on your debt collection case by allowing access to court records remotely or visiting the courthouse where the creditors filed the suit.

Collection agencies usually hope consumers will not be keen on following up on their case so that they can have the upper hand during the hearing. Hence, checking your court records is crucial to ensure you are fully prepared for your day in court.

In this article, we’ll explain how to access your court records online and in person. But first, let’s explore how New York’s civil court structure functions.

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Court structure in New York

When you know which New York court has jurisdiction over your case, it’ll make responding a lot easier. Since debt collection lawsuits are considered civil cases, we will focus on New York’s civil court structure in this section.

New York’s civil court structure is relatively complex compared to other states. It has multiple levels of courts catering to citizens living within and outside New York City. There are three main categories of courts and under each are several courts. They are:

Highest Appellate Courts

  • Court of Appeals: This is the court of last resort in the state. It hears civil appeals from the intermediate appellate courts. It also makes rules governing the entire judicial system and lawyers' admission to the state's bar.

  • Appellate Division of the Supreme Court: This court presides over civil appeals from the Supreme Court and County Court.

Courts of Original Jurisdiction

  • Trial Courts operating in and outside New York City: These courts are the Supreme Court, Family, Surrogate, and Court of Claims. The claims section hears cases of monetary damages involving state-related organizations.

  • Trial Courts in New York City: These courts are The Civil Court of the City of New York and The Criminal Court of the City. The Civil Court decides over small claims not exceeding $5,000 and damages of up to $25,000.

  • Trial Courts outside New York City: These courts include the District, City, Town and Village Justice, and County Courts. The City and the Town and Village Courts hear small claims matters not exceeding $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.

The graphic below further illustrate how New York’s civil court system is structured:

New York court structure

Your debt collection case will most likely be heard in your county’s City or Town and Village Court, depending on the amount in question. If you are in New York, look for your case records in the Civil Court.

When you get sued for a debt in New York, you have to respond with a written Answer before the New York deadline. Check out this video to learn more about how to prepare an Answer:

How to find your case number in New York

Your case number (also known as the index number in New York) helps to uniquely identify your court records during the hearing and when you make an official request to access them. The case number contains letters, numbers, and characters.

To find your case number, visit the courthouse where your lawsuit is filed and fill out a request form provided by the clerk. They’ll partly use the details in the form to find your case number—ensure the information submitted is correct. Use the following New York court directory to find your courthouse.

You can also find your case number online by going to New York's WebCivil eCourt Search Portal and using the party, attorney, or judge search option.

How to access your court records in New York

Court records help you learn information such as the date to appear before the judge, the courtroom number, the judge's name, a summary of the lawsuit, and other vital case information. More detailed court records also give details of the documents the debt collector filed with the court and the answer you sent. You can access this information either at the courthouse in person or online.

Access your case records in-person

Visiting the courthouse is an option if you live within minutes of the courthouse or need face-to-face assurance on details regarding your case. The court clerk will give you a form to fill out, and they’ll search for the records with that information. You may pay a small fee for the services and for making copies. Some courthouses have public terminals for individuals to search their case records and only pay to make copies.

To find your court’s location, use this , and on your left-hand side, you’ll see a court locator section. Choose your county and court type and click find the court. You’ll immediately see the contact information for your court.

Let’s look at an illustration of what we’ve discussed so far.

Example: Scott had a $4,765 debt with Empire Collections. He had defaulted for one year after losing his job, but the collection agency did not believe his reason for defaulting. Instead, Empire Collections sent a lawsuit letter to his home. Scott looked for the court's location via the court locator on the New York judicial website and paid a visit to confirm the suit was legitimate. Afterward, he was advised to respond to the lawsuit and follow up on the case. After using SoloSuit to draft and file his Answer, Scott waited for a week and revisited the courthouse to check if the court had updated the document in the court’s records. He requested copies, and the clerk advised him to follow up remotely instead of visiting the courthouse.

Access your New York court case records online

Online access is the least stressful and easiest way to access your court records. The New York WebCivil eCourt Search Portal gives you four options for searching case records. To find your court case online, you will some or all of the following information:

  • Index/case number
  • Party names
  • Attorney/firm
  • Judge

Enter the required information and click search. If you do not have the index number, provide more information to refine the search. Use the following online portal if your case is in the Court of Appeals.

SoloSuit is here to help

If you’re being sued for a debt, you can save the money and stress of finding an attorney and represent yourself with SoloSuit’s help.

Our software saves consumers who are being suedtime, money, and resources. Our documents help you deal with creditors in different stages of the collection process. These documents include a Debt Validation Letter, an Answer, and a Motion to Compel Arbitration. We also offer SoloSettle which helps people settle debt. We also have abundant helpful resources you can use to win your debt collection lawsuit.

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Facing debt can be overwhelming, but you don't have to navigate it alone. The Debt Lawyer is another great resource for battling debt issues, especially if you're considering wage garnishment or bankruptcy solutions as a resident of New Jersey or New York.

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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

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