If you’re being sued on a debt there are a few things we must do to determine to decide how one would proceed. First, is an original creditor suing you or a debt buyer? Original creditor’s being cap one American Express, Chase, Bank of America, Discover, just to name a few. Or are you being sued by a debt buyer? An outfit that buys debt either from a previous debt buyer or from the original creditor.
Example, Midland Funding, Asset Acceptance, Portfolio Recoveries, LVNV, CACH, CACV of Colorado these types of companies are all companies that buy debt and are referred to as debt buyers.
First let’s look at the lawsuit and decide whether you’re being sued by an original creditor or a debt buyer. If it’s an original creditor let’s determine what do they have attached to their claim, meaning card member agreements, statements, copies of old canceled checks you’ve written on the account applications and those sort of things in support of their claim. Generally speaking, original creditor cases are difficult to defend, they are first party suits and almost always have the documentation they need. There are times when there are questions as to the amount of damages one owes but not very often can one dispute that they actually have the account.
If you’re being sued by a debt buyer usually you have many defenses available to you. First, we would look and see what they had attached in support of their claim. Do they have assignments from the original buyer or the original creditor showing that they purchased the account? Do they have application? Do they have canceled checks? Do they have a card member agreement to show how they arrived at their over-limit fees, late fees and interest?
If you are being sued on either of these accounts one of two situations will occur. If you’re being sued for less than five thousand dollars in principle alone you will be in small claims court you will have to appear in small claims court depending on what county you’re in in Florida. You will go to a pretrial after your pretrial sometimes some counties set off mediations down the road a few months out others have their mediation right after the pre-trial almost simultaneous with the pre-trial. During that mediation you will determine whether you want to settle the debt or set it for a hearing. If it’s an original creditor you need to have an experienced attorney review the account. You may have defenses available to you that are not apparent to you but are just the one who’s trained to deal with these on a daily basis.
If there are no defenses is available to you then you’ll probably be forced to either take a judgment or work out some sort of payment plan either a monthly payment plan or a lump sum payment plan where you settle for less but you give them all their money at one time. If it’s a debt buyer, not always, but generally speaking these are defensible cases for many reasons. It is there hope that most won’t defend their case. There’s a very, very high default rate on cases filed by creditors not to mention debt buyers. They are banking on you not fussing with them and not fighting back. If you look at those cases closely debt buying cases, you can generally attack several things that may lend itself to prevailing in the lawsuit against you. Either way you have to appear in court if it’s small claims and you have to file a response to either an original creditor claim or a debt buying claim within 20 days of service, 20 straight days unless the 20th day falls on a holiday or weekend in which it pushes to the next business day. Please respond to those lawsuits or you will lose and you will have a judgment entered against you. If you don’t appear in court at a pre-trial a judgment will be entered against you. If you don’t respond within 20 days a clerk’s default will be entered against you and you will have a judgment entered as well. Once a judgment is entered they will start the collection process this is when wage garnishment occur, bank garnishment occur, and not often but occasionally, levying a vehicle that you own outright. To avoid this you’ll need to respond. If you speak with an experienced firm they will help you evaluate your lawsuit, let you know what county you’re in and more importantly what law firm you’re dealing with. This firm will usually deal with about 15 firms across the state, some are easier to deal with than others some are more reasonable than others. Upon determining whether you’re being sued from original creditor or a debt buyer? What is attached in support of their claim? What county you are in? And what law firm is bringing that lawsuit? It will help this office and any other trained attorney that does this most often with their workload and caseload to determine what your options are and whether you should settle, pay
something back or just live with the judgement. There are times when it makes most sense to settle. There are times when depending on what stage of life you’re in that a judgment is not problematic for several reasons. It’s a case-by-case basis and not one decision always applies to one person.