Don’t Sign For Certified Mail

Court SummonsIf the postman brings you a letter by certified mail, don’t sign for it!  When is the last time good news came by certified mail?   Ever?  I didn’t think so.

Caller id taught that you don’t have to answer every phone call.  You don’t have to sign for certified mail either.  Let’s think about it for a minute.  What comes in a certified letter?  A lawsuit, of course.  The State of Ohio wants to make the legal process fair.  They start this process by requiring you at least have some sort of provable notice of cases against you.

To “commence” or begin a case two things are needed under Ohio Law:

  • They have to file the case
  • They have to obtain service of process on you within one year.

One of the classic ways to serve papers is with certified mail.  The court sends it, you sign it.  The collection lawyer files for a judgment.  Easy, huh?  If you don’t sign for it nothing bad will happen to you.  You will not be arrested if you don’t sign for certified mail in a lawsuit.  There are ways for the lawyers for the banks and collection agencies to get you official notice if you don’t sign for certified mail.

One is regular mail.  However, this does not fit into their neat system of suing, judgment and garnishing.  Sometimes they forget.  If they forget and a year passes from the date they filed the lawsuit, the case will be dismissed.  The local rules in some courts allow for this to happen in 6 months if the lawyers are doing nothing.  They can refile if the time limit for suing hasn’t passed yet.  This won’t put off the inevitable, but it just might buy you some time to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Many people are curious about what the certified letter says about them.  Remember what curiosity did to the cat?  The result for you might not be as bad, but it won’t be fun either.  If you are expecting a lawsuit, or a garnishment just go to the court’s website and search your name.   It is the other lawyer’s job to get you official notice of the case.  Don’t do their job for them.

Here is a selection of the court website indexes so you can see if the certified mail you don’t sign for is related to a case against you.  The law normally requires collection lawsuits be filed in the court which has jurisdiction over your residence community, or your residence county:

  • If you live in Westlake, Bay Village, Rocky River, Fairview Park, or North Olmsted; the Rocky River Municipal Court.
  • If you live in Elyria, North Ridgeville, Grafton, Lagrange, Columbia Station, Eaton, Elyria or Carlisle townships; the Elyria Municipal Court.
  • If you live in Lorain, Sheffield Lake or Sheffield Township; Lorain Municipal Court.
  • If you live in Oberlin, Amherst, the Villages of Wellington, South Amherst, Rochester, or Kipton, the Townships of Amherst, Brighton, Camden, Henrietta, Huntington, New Russia, Penfield, Rochester, or Wellington; Oberlin Municipal Court.
  • If you live in Avon Lake, Avon or Sheffield Village; Avon Lake Municipal Court.
  • If you live in Berea, Brook Park, Olmsted Township, Olmsted Falls, Middleburg Heights, or Strongsville; Berea Municipal Court.
  • If you live in Vermilion, Vermilion Township, Florence Township, or Brownhelm Township; Vermilion Municipal Court.
  • You might also want to check the common pleas courts for Lorain County as well.

If you are at the point where you are afraid of being sued, you are trying not to be served, or you are looking for your name in the court records, especially if this is not the first time, it is time to call a chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney.  First thing to remember, don’t sign for certified mail.  There’s no extra credit for signing the green card.



Bill Balena

Bill Balena is an attorney with offices in Westlake, Ohio. He represents consumers in Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Federal Student Loan Resolution. He is a former city prosecutor, and an accomplished OVI, DUI, DUS and criminal trial attorney.

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William Balena
Lorain and Cuyahoga County Bankruptcy Attorney

30400 Detroit Road
Suite 106
Westlake, OH 44145
(888) 633-5426 Toll Free
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(440) 365-2000 Local Elyria Number

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