Help! I’m Getting Sued on a Credit Card Debt!
Getting sued for any reason can be scary. Thankfully most people won’t get sued in their lifetimes, but for people who owe money, the chances of a creditor’s lawsuit are significant. If you are sued, should you fight it or defend against the lawsuit? Should you get an attorney?
We’re talking here about unsecured debt—medical debt, or debt incurred on a credit card or a retail credit account. Foreclosures, or any debt that was secured by property, such as a car loan, are a bit different, and as a general rule, you should always get an attorney for those kinds of lawsuits.
The first thing to know is that if you are sued, you will be served with the lawsuit paperwork. You only have a short period of time to respond to that lawsuit, so don’t ignore it, whether you get an attorney to help you or not. If you ignore it, a default could be entered against you, which forever bars you from ever asserting defenses to the lawsuit.
To Get a Lawyer or Not to Get a Lawyer?
You of course can always get an attorney to assist you in a creditor’s lawsuit, but there are certain situations where the need for an attorney may be greater. These include the following situations:
- If you really don’t owe the debt, or you have paid the debt, or you truly believe that the amount they say you owe them is incorrect. These are valid defenses, but they take a lot of know-how to assert.
- If the debt is about 4-6 years old. Most debts as they approach this time period can start to be too old to be legally collected. An attorney can see if in fact the debt is too old.
- If the debt is significant – so high that even if you negotiated a reasonable settlement, you’d be unable to pay it (in which case, you may want to start thinking about your bankruptcy options)
- The creditor has been harassing you. The creditor may have violated debt collection laws, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
What About Bankruptcy?
Of course, even if you did get an attorney, and defended the collection action, the next question to ask will be whether this is the last one of these kinds of suits that you will face. If you have multiple debts, instead of paying money to an attorney to defend the collection lawsuit, you may be better directing your efforts to filing for bankruptcy.
It isn’t too late to file for bankruptcy even after a creditor’s lawsuit has been filed. The bankruptcy will immediately stop the creditor’s lawsuit because of the automatic stay.
Call the West Palm Beach bankruptcy lawyers at Kelley Kaplan & Eller at 561-264-6850 for help and guidance with your bankruptcy if you owe money to creditors or are being harassed with collection calls and collector lawsuits.