I'm being sued by AMEX for an outstanding debt. I paid off the full amount after receiving summons, but I still need to file an answer with the court and likely inform the suing attorney. With 0 legal experience, I'm wondering if I should go about this myself or hire an attorney. The cost of hiring an attorney will be a significant factor in my decisions, can I ask for a free consultation and ask about estimated cost at the consultation?
I suggest that if you paid in full and can prove this, that you send a certified letter, return receipt requested to AMEX's attorneys and the case should be dropped. Otherwise, you will have to retain an experienced civil litigation attorney.
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Go with your gut: meet in person with an experienced debtor-creditor attorney about your experience with American Express. Tell him or her your objectives and ask for a fee quote.
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Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said, "An Attorney that represents himself has a fool for a client." If a legally trained person should not attempt to handle their own legal matters, imagine how inappropriate it would be for you to try to represent yourself. My suggestion is to use the "Find a lawyer" tab above on Avvo and search for a local Attorney in your area that addresses debt. Schedule an appointment to go talk to them, they will likely not charge you for the first consultation, and you will know what your options are at that time; they will also inform you of what the fees would be to retain them. Just remember there are deadlines in which you have to answer the Complaint, so don't delay -- do it today! Best of Luck to you.
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You must first find out if you are in a New Jersey State Court or a U.S. Federal Court. This is important because it will determine how much time you have left to respond to the complaint. In U.S. Federal Court, the Defendant (You!) has 21 calendar days to respond to the complaint excluding national holidays like this upcoming Labor Day. This is likely to be different in New Jersey State Court.
If you have more than 2-3 weeks left to respond to the complaint, it would be best to follow the advice of Leonard Roy Boyer who also included a response in this Avvo Q and A. Send a letter to AMEX’s attorney via email (his/her information should be on the complaint or search the attorney’s name on the internet) explaining that you have already paid this debt and include in the letter as much information as possible about the date you paid the debt, your method of payments, and attach any documents to the letter that evidence your payments. Send the letter through an over-night carrier with a return receipt requested and wait for a response. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter and all attached documents for your records.
If you only have a week or so left to respond to the complaint, then it would be best to seek an attorney’s assistance. Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation and are willing to negotiate fees. The Legal Services of New Jersey website provides people with information about local attorneys who specialize in creditor issues, such as yours.
If you are still hesitant about hiring an attorney, you may proceed pro se (representing yourself). If you go to the NJ Courts website there is an Answer Template for pro se people to utilize and detailed steps to follow when filling out the answer. Still, my advice is to meet with a creditor attorney, as it is easy to come unstuck when representing yourself. I hope this was helpful, best of luck to you!
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Please be advised that I am an attorney licensed in the State of California. My responses on this platform are informational and educational only, and are not and should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney client relationship between myself and any person who reads the information I publish on this platform.
This is a type of case wherein most lawyers will charge hourly.
How much is AMEX claiming? If it is a small amount, the cost of an attorney could be more than the lawsuit.
Also, are you being sued by AMEX, or was the account sold to another party? Debt buyers sometimes do not have the documents necessary to prove a lawsuit, and may not be able to have any AMEX representative as a witness. These debt buyers just hope you do not show up.
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