January 8, 2024

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Tennessee (2024 Guide)

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Tennessee (2024 Guide) ZumaZip

In Tennessee, you must respond to a debt lawsuit within 30 days to avoid the risk of losing automatically by default judgment. This means filing an Answer document where you address each issue raised in the Complaint and assert any affirmative defenses you may have. ZumaZip offers a convenient solution to draft and file your Tennessee Answer quickly and efficiently.

Dealing with these collectors can be stressful, and being sued for a debt can be even worse. Plus, when you’re already struggling to make ends meet, the thought of hiring a lawyer can seem unrealistic. After all, if you had the money for that, you probably would have paid off your debt in the first place, right?

But don’t worry, you don’t have to go through this alone. In Tennessee, there are laws in place to protect you. In this article, we’ll go over the process of responding to a debt lawsuit and answering a Summons for debt collection in Tennessee. We’ll cover state-specific requirements, like the deadline, forms, laws, and more.

So, without further ado, let’s break down how to respond to a debt lawsuit in Tennessee.

Table of Contents

  • Deadlines
  • Forms
  • Steps to Respond
  • What is ZumaZip?
  • Statute of Limitations in Tennessee
  • Settle your Debt
  • Tennessee Legal Aid Organizations
  • Key Takeaways
  • Guides for Other States

Respond to your Tennessee debt lawsuit before the deadline

In Tennessee, upon receiving a Summons for debt collection, you have 30 days to respond. This legal action commences when the plaintiff, which could be a creditor or debt collector, initiates the case by filing it in court and serving you with the necessary documents, including the Summons and Complaint. The Summons outlines the lawsuit details, while the Complaint specifies the claims made against you.

According to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12.01:

“A defendant shall serve an answer within thirty (30) days after the service of the summons and complaint upon him. A party served with a pleading stating a cross-claim against such party shall serve an answer thereto within thirty (30) days after the service upon him or her.”

In Tennessee, it’s crucial to file your Answer within the 30-day timeframe. Failure to do so may result in the plaintiff requesting a default judgment, granting them various rights such as wage garnishment, property liens, and bank account freezes. With ZumaZip, responding to your debt lawsuit before the deadline becomes hassle-free. Keep reading to discover more about how ZumaZip can assist you.

Use Tennessee Answer forms to respond to your case

ZumaZip’s Answer form is the easiest way to respond to your Tennessee debt lawsuit. All you have to do is respond to a few questions about your case online, and ZumaZip’s software drafts an Answer for you. This form includes the proper legal wording and formatting so you can present the strongest case.

Otherwise, you can draft an Answer on your own. To do so, you should follow the steps listed below. But whether you’re a DIY type or prefer to leave it to the pros, don’t ignore that lawsuit. Be sure to respond before the TN deadline and fight your case.

Follow these three steps to respond to your debt lawsuit in Tennessee

As we already mentioned, when you’re sued for debt, you’ll receive two documents – the Summons and Complaint. The Summons kicks off the lawsuit and the Complaint lays out the creditor’s argument against you. You’ve got 30 days to respond, or else you lose by default (and nobody likes to lose).

Follow these three steps to respond to your Summons and Complaint in Tennessee:

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

Below, we’ll break down each of these steps in detail.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “ugh, this all sounds like a lot of work.” And you’re not wrong! But luckily, there are some tools out there to help you out. ZumaZip is one of them. Our service can help you draft and file an Answer in a matter of minutes

1. Address each claim listed in the Complaint.

Responding to a Complaint isn’t as hard as it might seem.

The Complaint will lay out each issue in a numbered paragraph. You can respond with “agree,” “disagree,” or “I don’t know.” Don’t forget to match each response with the corresponding paragraph number.

Many lawyers suggest using a general denial because it shifts the burden of proof to the filing party. If the information is accurate, choose “agree.” For example, you could admit to your identity and the fact that you owe the debt. Remember, you don’t need to deny every claim to win. Next, deny any false assertions, such as the debt amount or whether you owe it at all.

Just make sure to respond within 30 days under Tennessee law, or you’ll risk losing by default. Nobody wants that – except maybe your opponent.

Start your Answer with the help of ZumaZip.

2. Assert your affirmative defenses

Once you’ve addressed each claim against you, it’s time to tell your side of the story. You can do this by asserting your affirmative defenses.

An affirmative defense is any legal reason or justification for your actions that proves you should not be held liable for the debt. Here are some typical defenses you can use to fight back:

  • You don’t owe the debt. It’s possible that the debt is not yours or that someone stole your identity.
  • You’ve already paid off the debt. Maybe you’ve already settled the account, or perhaps there was a prior agreement to pay less than the total amount.
  • You disagree with the amount of the debt. The amount they’re claiming may include excessive late fees or other charges.
  • The debt has been discharged in bankruptcy. If your debt was included in a bankruptcy that received a discharge, you are no longer obligated to pay it.
  • The plaintiff hasn’t proven they hold the debt. It’s not uncommon for debts to be sold to third-party collection agencies that don’t have the proper documentation.
  • The statute of limitations has expired. Tennessee law sets the deadline at 6 years to sue for a debt based on a contract from six years ago.
  • These are just a few examples of affirmative defenses. Remember, you can attach any supporting documentation as evidence for your claims. It’s important to note that inability to pay the debt is not a legal defense.

Make the right defense the right way with ZumaZip.

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

Filing your Answer with the court and serving the plaintiff is the final step in responding to a debt collection lawsuit, but it’s just as important as every other step you’ve taken so far. Luckily, ZumaZip can handle this step for you, so you can focus on more important things, like working out a debt settlement offer.

To file and serve your Answer, you’ll need to complete a few easy steps:

  1. Print at least two copies of your Answer, but make it three so you can keep one for yourself. If you don’t have access to a printer, try your local public library or office supply store. ZumaZip can also print and mail it for you, so you don’t have to leave the house!
  2. Mail one copy of your Answer to the court at the address listed on the Summons and Complaint.
  3. Mail a second copy to the plaintiff’s attorney, whose address is also listed on the Summons and Complaint.
  4. Finally, gather all the supporting documents for your Answer and bring them to your court hearing.

Now that you’ve filed and served your Answer, all that’s left to do is wait to hear back from the court about a possible hearing or the plaintiff, if they decide to take further action.

Now, let’s explore an example of how to resolve a debt lawsuit in Tennessee.

Example: Tiffany is being sued by LVNV Funding in Tennessee for an old credit card debt of $1,000. She uses ZumaZip to draft and file an Answer into the case before the 30-day Tennessee deadline is up. When LVNV Funding’s lawyer receives Tiffany’s Answer, they realize that their numbers were off and they don’t have proof to many of the claims they made when they initiated the case. They determine that it isn’t worth it to pursue the debt any further, and they file a motion to dismiss.

What is ZumaZip?

ZumaZip makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use ZumaZip to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

ZumaZip’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.

Check the Tennessee statute of limitations on debt

In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for debt collection is six years, as outlined by Tenn. Code § 28-3-109. This means that creditors and debt collectors only have six years from the date of last payment or activity on an account to sue debtors for outstanding debt in Tennessee. It also means that the Tennessee statute of limitations on credit card debt is just six years too.

The table below further illustrates the statute of limitations on different types of debt in Tennessee:

Debt TypeDeadline
Credit Card6 years
Medical/td>6 years
Auto Loan6 years
Student Loan6 years
Mortgage6 years
Personal Loan6 years
Judgment10 years
Tenn. Code § 28-3-109 and § 28-3-110

So, if you’re feeling a bit nostalgic for the days when you had less debt, make sure to keep track of the last time you made a payment or had any account activity. And if a debt collector comes knocking after six years have passed, don’t be afraid to use the Tennessee statute of limitations defense to keep them at bay!

Use the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.

Be careful not to make any payments on a debt until you know it is within the statute of limitations in your state. Doing so will reset the clock, and you might find yourself in court when you could have otherwise avoided it.

Settle your debt before going to court

Maybe you know that you owe the debt. If this is the case, you might be wondering if debt settlement is a good option for you.

If you’ve been sued for debt, you can reach out to your creditors or debt collectors at any stage of the lawsuit to discuss debt settlement. Debt settlement is the process by which a consumer, like you, settles an outstanding debt for an amount that is less than the full amount owed.

ZumaZip, powered by ZumaZip, makes the debt settlement process simple.

As a tech-based approach to debt settlement, ZumaZip Settle’s software can help you send and receive settlement offers until an agreement is reached. Then, it helps manage your documentation of the settlement and transfers your payment to the creditor or debt collector, keeping your financial information private and secure.

To learn more about how ZumaZip Settle can help you settle your debt for good click here

Tennessee has numerous government-funded organizations that offer free legal services to individuals who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. These organizations can provide assistance with debt collection cases or connect you with a local lawyer who can help. Below is a list of Tennessee legal aid organizations that may be able to assist you with your civil case:

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt and can’t afford a lawyer, don’t panic! Help is available, and these organizations exist to support you.

Key Takeaways

So, in short, here’s the review on how to respond to a Summons for debt collection in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s deadline to respond to a debt collection lawsuit is 30 days. ZumaZip’s Answer form makes responding before the deadline simple.

Make certain you are using the proper legal formatting and wording in your Answer document. When you write up your Answer, complete the following three steps:

  1. Address each claim listed in the Complaint.
  2. Assert any and all of your affirmative defenses.
  3. File and serve the Answer with the Court and the plaintiff’s attorney.

If you know you owe the debt, and you have enough money to settle a portion of it right away, use ZumaZip Settle to send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with your creditor.

What is ZumaZip?

ZumaZip is a convenient solution designed to streamline your response to a debt collection lawsuit. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when you use ZumaZip:

Firstly, you’ll access our user-friendly web application, which guides you through the process step by step. You’ll be prompted to answer a series of questions related to your specific situation. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you have the option to either print out the finalized forms and mail them to the appropriate courts yourself, or you can opt to utilize ZumaZip’s services to file them on your behalf. Additionally, if you choose this option, an attorney will review your document for added peace of mind.

If you’re seeking guidance on how to effectively respond to a debt collection lawsuit, ZumaZip can provide the assistance you need. Feel free to explore our FAQs for more information on what ZumaZip has to offer.

What if I haven’t been sued yet?

If you’ve only received a collections notice, but not a lawsuit, the best way to respond is with a Debt Validation Letter. When a debt collector contacts you in any way, whether it’s by phone or mail, you can respond by formally requesting a debt validation with a Debt Validation Letter . This letter notifies the collector that you dispute the debt and forces them to provide proof you owe the debt. They can’t call you or continue collecting until they provide validation of the debt. This flowchart shows how you can use a Debt Validation Letter to win.

Get started with a Debt Validation Letter here.

How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states

Here’s a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

Guides on how to beat every debt collector

Hey there! Facing off against a debt collector can feel like a daunting challenge, but fear not! We’re here to help you navigate through it all with our handy guides designed to assist you in beating every debt collector you encounter. Whether you’re facing a new lawsuit or dealing with a persistent collector, we’ve got your back. Stay positive, stay informed, and let’s tackle this together!

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