Creditors have been extremely aggressive in serving lawsuit quickly (but not necessarily filing them in Court). This is explained below.
In Washington, if you receive a summons and complaint, you only have 20 days to file a Notice of Appearance and Answer to the Complaint FROM THE DAY IT IS SERVED UPON YOU. If you don’t do it in the correct form and/or in time, you automatically lose and a judgment will be entered against you.
The 20 day response time starts the day it is handed to you even if the creditor has not officially filed it with the Court yet. It is this strategy that is catching many people off guard. People who get served contact the Court Clerk, find out that the lawsuit has not been filed yet and mistakenly think they have more time. However, the reality is the 20 day clock is already ticking. Creditors are using this strategy hoping that people will not respond within the 20 days and obtain a Default Judgment against unsuspecting debtors.
Judgments are good in Washington for 10 years and can be renewed for another 10 years.
Creditors have been quick to obtain judgments and then garnish bank accounts and wages.
You have defenses to this type of action; however, you must act quickly if you are served with a lawsuit (even if the lawsuit has not been filed in Court yet).
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