The strategy is going to depend upon the age of the debt, the amount, and whether the debt was assigned to a third party or is the original creditor.
Generally speaking, if a lawsuit has already been filed, you should file an Answer first, before you negotiate.
You are usually better off if you make the first settlement proposal, rather than having to respond to the plaintiff's demand.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.
If you're a defendant, you absolutely must get your answer filed before doing anything else. Your goal is to gain as much leverage as possible, in order to maximize your bargaining position. Your other questions are highly dependent on the facts of your case, so if you want to provide more information, we can probably provide more detailed answers.
Eric Ridley can be reached by phone: (805) 244-5291, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at http://www.ridleylawoffices.com This answer is intended to provide general information only. It does not create an Attorney-Client relationship, nor should it be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. Eric D. Ridley is licensed to practice law in California. The Law Offices of Eric Ridley emphasizes Estate Planning, Bankruptcy and Consumer Law & Litigation.