George Simons | November 10, 2023
Edited by Hannah Locklear
Fact-checked by Patrick Austin, J.D.
Summary: Delaware's statute of limitations on debt is three years for debts related to credit cards, medical, auto loans, student loans, and mortgages; for debts related to promissory notes, the statute of limitations is six years. Respond to your Delaware debt lawsuit and bring up the expired statute of limitations to increase your chances of winning the case.
Consumer reports suggest that the average Delawarean has more than $5,000 in credit card debt. If you fall into this category and you're facing a collection lawsuit, read on for more details.
Unfortunately, many debtors often think that a lawsuit is a dead end and that there's no chance to overturn such a situation in their favor successfully. But that's because they aren't aware of the debt collection laws in the state and how they apply.
We've summarized all you need to know about the statute of limitations on debts in Delaware and how they come in handy for debtors facing a collection complaint.
Statutes of limitations on debts differ from one state to another and may also be applied differently depending on the type of debt or contract from which the debt arises. The statute of limitations is the period that allows a creditor or a debt collector to sue a debtor for overdue debts. If the period elapses, the creditor can't file a collection lawsuit, although the debtor remains liable for the debt.
|Source: Del. Code tit. 10 § 5072 and § 8106
In Delaware, the statute of limitations on debts is as follows:
Failing to pay your debt on time will likley prompt the creditor to contact you to remind you of your obligation. Usually, creditors do that for about 180 days before charging off the debt and transferring the account to a debt collection agency.
Debt collectors will do anything possible to reach you and convince you to pay what you owe. For example, you'll receive constant calls or emails, including several debt negotiation offers where applicable.
However, the law regulates debt collectors' actions to protect you from unfairness, harassment, and abuse. For example, the debt collector can't threaten to sue you or force you to pay larger installments. These regulations are provided for under the Fair Debts Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
If debt collectors bother you with constant phone calls, you can request them in writing to stop contacting you. This request should end the annoying phone calls, but they may contact you to serve you with the collection Summon and Complaint.
Debt collectors go to court to obtain a legal judgment against you, such as a wage garnishment order to enforce a debt. They usually hope that you won't put up a fight against the lawsuit or simply forget to respond.
However, if you ignore such a complaint, the court will pass a default judgment in favor of the collector, and they'll be awarded any befitting legal debt recovery remedies.
Whether the debt is old and time-barred or not, it's important to respond promptly to the suit. One important thing to note when preparing your response is the time you have to file your Answer.
In Delaware, you have only 15 days from the day you receive the debt collection Summons and Complaints to file your Answer. Delaware courts also provide a general Answer Form to respond to civil suits such as the debt collection complaint.
However, you can choose to create your own document that includes all required information, such as:
The next step is to respond to all the complaints raised by the plaintiff, each in separate paragraphs. To do this, you can either admit, deny, or claim that you don't know anything about the debt (this is possible if it's a case of mistaken identity).
Debtors in Delaware can also request the debt collector to prove that they owe the debt. That is done by requesting the collector for a Bill of Particulars.
You'll be surprised that the collector may not have proof of the debt, especially if it has changed hands among collectors several times or is too old. After preparing your Answer, you must file it with the court and mail a copy to the debt collector or their lawyer within the timeframe provided by Delaware law.
The next steps you take will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, if you believe that the debt collector owes you money instead, you can file a counterclaim five days before the trial commences. One of the reasons for filing a counterclaim is if the debt collector violated any FDCPA regulations during collection. When that happens, you may file a counterclaim seeking compensation for the damages caused.
The other option is to challenge the lawsuit in court after stating your affirmative defenses. You can use reasons such as:
Don't panic at the sight of a debt collection Summons against you; the SoloSuit web application can help you file an Answer in three simple steps.
SoloSuit is an automated software designed to help debtors respond to debt collection complaints by generating an Answer document within 15 minutes.
The application guides you through the steps to creating an Answer document by answering a set of questions. It also helps you gather all the information needed to create a valid document acceptable in court.
Once the document is ready, you can print and mail it to the court as your Answer and serve a copy to the plaintiff. Alternatively, SoloSuit can file the Answer on your behalf to avoid missing the deadline.
And, did you know that having your Answer reviewed by the competent attorneys recommended by SoloSuit increases your chances of winning the case by 80 percent? If you didn't know, now you do!
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"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
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.