Summary:Have you been asked to reference a case number for your debt collection lawsuit? Learn all you need to know about case numbers here.
If you're unable to repay your debt and debt collectors exhaust other means of trying to get you to pay the debt, they'll most likely resort to filing a lawsuit against you. After filing the debt collection lawsuit, they'll serve you with a summons and complaint letter about the debt. You'll need to provide an answer to the court within a set period or risk losing the case by default.
When creating an answer document, you need to provide certain information referred to as 'styling' by courts and add it to the answer document. This includes case information such as the case number, civil number, index number, and other crucial information related to the case.
This article focuses on a case number and why it's crucial to your case.
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Definition of a case number
A case number is a unique number assigned to a case by the court. The number makes it easier to track or retrieve the case.
Knowing your case number also makes it easy to determine where and when the defendant filed the case. If you're unsure of your case number, you'll need to consult the court clerk.
Case numbers can be numbers, letters, or characters such as a dash (-). Some case numbers assigned by limited jurisdiction courts, e.g., district and municipal courts, may attach specific meaning to their case numbers. However, such case numbers have no meaning to outsiders or people not involved in the case.
If you're assigned a case number, you must retain it for all subsequent admissions or matters relating to the case.
A case number has the following information:
- the year the lawsuit was filed, usually a two or four-digit format;
- the type of case, e.g., a civil case;
- a randomly assigned sequence number generated by the court;
- the court the lawsuit was filed, represented by letters or numbers.
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How superior courts assign case numbers
A superior court may assign case numbers using three different methods:
- the traditional format;
- using the Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS) or;
- the Odyssey case management system.
However, these formats may not be uniformly used throughout all states. Some states have their own systems for assigning case numbers, and the formats may differ from those listed here.
The traditional format for a case number
Most superior courts assign case numbers with four parts:
- the first two digits indicate the year the case was filed;
- the third digit usually indicates the case type;
- the next series of digits represent the randomly assigned sequence number with most sequence numbers beginning from 00001 in the current year;
- the computer uses the last digit, also known as a check digit, to verify if the previous digits are correct.
There are nine case types:
- Mental illness/Alcohol
- Juvenile dependency
- Juvenile offender
Debt collection lawsuits are under civil cases; therefore, they'll have 2 as the case number assigned by the court.
For instance, if 89 2 00056 8 is a case number. This means that the case was the 56th civil case filed in 1989, while the check digit is 8.
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Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS)
Some courts use the Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS) to assign case numbers instead of the traditional system.
SCOMIS uses a number format with two parts. The first part indicates the case type, while the second is the sequence number or the non-SCOMIS number.
For instance, if a case number generated by SCOMIS is 2-00001. This means that the case is the first civil case filed in court.
Odyssey case management system
The Odyssey case management system is similar to the traditional format. The major difference is that the Odyssey format has a county number instead of the check digit at the end.
The Odyssey system depends on County numbers listed under the Judicial Information System. For instance, if your county number is R52, all cases filed in the county will end in 52 instead of having a check digit.
Let's say your case number is 16-2-56709-7 in the traditional format; under the Odyssey system, the case number would be 16-2-56709-52.
If you don't know your county's number, you can look it up in the JIS/SCOMIS database. Note that all courts don't use the same system to assign case numbers; a court case number system or format used in one state may not be similar to other states. For confirmation, check the individual county court website for details on how case numbers are assigned.
The importance of case numbers
There are several reasons why a case number is essential. They include:
- allows for easy reference to civil and criminal cases;
- provides detailed information about the case, e.g., where, when, and how the lawsuit was filed
- used to identify the judicial officer who was assigned to the case;
- allows for a uniform way to access case information with the federal judicial system;
- assists in the proper routing of court documents.
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What if you get served with a summons without a case number?
Most states require the creditor or debt collector to file a lawsuit with the court before they can serve you the summons and complaint letter about the debt. For this reason, you'll find the case number attached to the summons or complaint documents you'll receive from the complainant.
However, in some states, the complainant doesn't need to file a case with the court before serving you the summons and complaint. For this reason, you may receive a summons or complaint without a case number.
This is because the collection lawsuit wasn't filed with the court at the time of service. So if you go ahead and contact the court clerk, they would have no idea of the case you're talking about.
However, this doesn't mean that the summons and complaint letters are false. If your state allows debt collectors to serve you before filing a lawsuit, then the summons is valid. For this reason, you'll need to respond to the summons and complaint or risk losing the case by default.
If you're unsure how to respond to a debt collections lawsuit in your state, SoloSuit is the legal help web application you need. Remember, debt collection summons have deadlines, and if you don't respond on time, the court might pass a default judgment against you. This explains why SoloSuit makes the whole process of filing an answer document fast and easy!
What is SoloSuit?
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.
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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
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