Do You Need an Attorney to Defend a Collections Lawsuit?
So you are being sued on debt and you aren’t sure if it’s worth hiring an attorney or not. Surely an attorney will cost money, but will he or she cost more than what you could pay to resolve the debt?
While there are no bright line answers as to when it’s worth hiring an attorney and when it isn’t, there are some considerations to help make up your mind whether it’s worth hiring a good debt defense attorney.
How Much are You Being Sued For?
This is an obvious factor. If you are being sued for an amount less than $2,000, and you suspect that you do in fact owe the debt, you may well be able to resolve the debt yourself for less than what it would cost you to hire an attorney.
There is usually no harm in calling the plaintiff’s attorneys yourself to ask what they would resolve the amount owed for, so long as you don’t give too much information. Don’t apologize, explain why it wasn’t paid, say you will have money in the future, or give much else other than asking what they would take to settle the debt or lawsuit. You can give a short explanation of your current financial hardship if asked, but avoid giving detailed run downs of your family assets, monthly expenses, and other personal financial information.
Do You Owe the Money?
Debt collectors confuse people with common or similar sounding names. They misapply payments. They sue on amounts previously discharged in bankruptcy. In short, don’t assume that you owe the money just because a debt collector is suing you for the amount.
If you have a reason to think that you don’t owe the money or the amount owed, then it may be best to hire an attorney. The law often requires debt collectors who file wrongful suits to pay consumers’ attorneys fees, or even pay additional damages under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Proving you don’t owe the amount you are being sued for likely will require that you obtain evidence through discovery or by taking depositions—things it is better to have an attorney to take care of for you.
Often, debt collectors will try to sue on debts that are too old to legally be collected. The question of whether yours is too old is an individual question based on the type of debt, and any documents you signed. However, as a general rule, if the debt you are being sued on is approaching 5 years old, you may be best served by getting an attorney to tell you whether or not you have a valid defense based on the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Usually anytime you are being sued for collection of a student loan, it is a good idea to hire an attorney. Student loans often involve more than a nominal amount, and complex student loan laws could come into play. Defenses are also based on whether your loan is private or public, so having a good attorney on hand will help you navigate the complex waters of government regulation.
If you are being sued by a debt collector or debt buyer, contact Jacobs Legal in Miami today to discuss your rights in court and how to defend yourself.