After a debtor has defaulted on a debt, the creditor may eventually file a lawsuit for the purpose of collecting on the debt. The creditor initiates the lawsuit by filing a written complaint in civil court. After the lawsuit is filed, the creditor will notify the debtor of the lawsuit by obtaining "service" on the debtor, usually in the form of a summons. The goal of the lawsuit is to obtain a judgment on the defaulted debt. After the creditor obtains a judgment, the creditor will usually initiate additional steps to collect on the debt, such as wage garnishment or by freezing a bank account.
If a debtor files for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the creditor is prevented from filing a lawsuit. If a lawsuit has already been initiated, the bankruptcy filing will stop the creditor from proceeding with the lawsuit.