My question involves judgment recovery in the State of: New Jersey
I had my wisdom teeth out in 2005 when I was 18 years old. I was home for the summer, as I attended college in Pennsylvania. I was still under my father's insurance at that time and he was claiming me as his dependent. During this time my parents were under financial stress and, without my knowledge, a bill accumulated for over $3,000 from this surgery (insurance wouldn't cover it). It was never paid, and eventually the surgeon sued me for the money...unbeknownst to me.
In 2010, I had graduated college and moved to Delaware, where I still live. I applied for an apartment in Delaware & was notified by the landlord that I had a civil judgment on my credit report. I had no idea what a civil judgment even was! I called my father panicking, and he explained to me what had happened (He never told me... I never got the summons... etc). He said he had tried to get the judgment to be in his name, as he was the person on the insurance, he was responsible for me, etc, to no avail. I pulled my own credit report & it says the judgment occurred in 2008. I also have been able to locate my case on public record on NJ's courts website.
Over the last 3 years I have had a lot of personal problems that prevented me from taking care of this, so I am just now realizing I need to take action.
1. How do I go about settling this debt? The surgeon is listed as the plaintiff. Do I need a lawyer to do this? Can I just contact the surgeon myself and try to work out a payment plan? I'm so lost.
2. As I mentioned earlier, I live in Delaware now. How does this work going across state lines? If I wanted to try to vacate the judgment (because I was never given the summons & wasn't aware of it), would I have to travel to New Jersey and appear in court? Would I even be able to vacate this judgment after 5 years?
Help please! Thank you.