I'm being sued! What can I do? (Edited)
So, I will start off by saying that I have a lot of debt. About $30,000 total, and almost all of it is medical bills (about $2,000 is student loans which aren't due yet; none of it is credit card debt or evictions or anything similar). I'm only 25 years old... I've had a lot of health problems in my past and I've never had insurance and until recently, I'd barely even had a job.
Today when I happened to be at my mom's house (I don't live with my mom), a process server showed up at the door and gave me a summons to appear in court on January 3rd because I'm being sued for a little under $4,000 due to not paying the surgeon that performed my appendectomy back in 2010.
I know that I can't simply skip the court date, and that I have to appear or respond in some way. But I also know that if they make a judgement against me (which is likely, especially since I DO have a job now) I am going to be screwed. $4,000 is over five months' worth of pay for me, and I'm paying rent and bills and everything else. On top of that, I'm only a seasonal employee at my job and I could very well become unemployed at the beginning of January which would screw me even more.
I have no idea what to do right now. Should I contact a lawyer? What should I expect from that - especially since I don't have the money to PAY a lawyer? Should I just show up and hope for the best? What information should I bring with me when I appear in court? Is there anything I can say or do that will help my case?
I know it's bad to have this kind of debt, but I honestly have not been able to pay these bills. I've been barely making it without paying them, and I've been trying to save so I can file for bankruptcy but even if I filed now, the summons is in my hands and I know it won't help with this particular case.
Has anyone been through this before? Any advice whatsoever? Please try to keep the bashing to a minimum, I'm doing the best I can as a single mom and I am terrified enough as it is. Thanks in advance.
ETA: A lot of people are saying that the doctor's office would've accepted payments. I did try that, several times, even when I wasn't working - my mom gave me an "allowance" when I was living with her of about $20 a month but the doctor said they couldn't/wouldn't accept less than $100 a month and that it would go towards my bill but they would still continue to have collections contact me and it would still go on my credit and eventually I'd still be sued. But I DID try to avoid this, and I didn't just ignore the doctor's calls or the collection notices.