What if I am Being Garnished Without Notice?
Have you been garnished without receiving notice of the lawsuit? Believe it or not, people call me all the time regarding this issue. If garnishment proceedings have been initiated against you, but you have no idea where this lawsuit came from or have no recollection of being served with service of process you, you may be able to vacate the default judgment and garnishment entered against you. The first thing you should do is check out your case at the proper court and look up who the creditor says was served with a summons and complaint which must be filed in the court.
In order to start garnishing wages or bank accounts, creditors must go through the proper legal channels. This means that they must file a summons and complaint with the court and hand it to you in person or leave it with a member of your household of suitable age and capacity. Failure to respond to a summons and complaint within 20 days will result in a default judgment being entered against you. In Washington State the case may have not actually been filed in court and some creditors attempt to see if they can get you to settle with them before the case is actually filed with the court to save them the cost of serving and filing the complaint. The most likely of these firms to attempt this practice is Suttell & Hammer and Mandarich Law Group. Filing an answer can buy you a year or longer before you may be liable for a debt. The downside of filing an answer and litigating all the way to trial is that you may be liable for attorney fees as well.
Once a default judgment is entered against you, wages and bank accounts may be garnished. Your options at this point are to file bankruptcy which will most likely relieve you of your liability to pay on this debt, or you may want to seek to vacate the default judgment if you believe you have a good reason for not responding to the complaint. The best reasons to vacate a default judgment is that you were never properly served with the summons and complaint and thus never had an opportunity to have your day in court per say. Recently I have had an increased number of debtors telling me that they were never served with a summons and complaint. After looking up the debtors case, I found that the summons and complaint were either served on a “Jane Doe” who did not fit the description of the debtor or any members of her household or a person listed that the debtor had no idea who that was. Therefore if you can provide evidence that you were not at your residence during the time of service, then you may be able to set aside the judgment. Whether it is worth it to set aside the judgment will depend on how much the judgment is for and what your attorney is going to charge you for his time to set aside the default judgment.
If you have additional questions about being garnished without receiving notice of a lawsuit contact Symmes Law Group today by calling 206-682-7975