Can you afford NOT to hire an attorney?
The better question is can you afford not to hire one. Credit card lawsuits are filed en masse by a handful of law firms across the state. I’ve personally reviewed court files and seen one attorney file over 20 cases in one day in the same Justice of the Peace Court. In a large percentage of debt buyer lawsuits, and a fair percentage of original creditor lawsuits, the creditors and their attorneys the lack the documentation to properly prove up their cases.
Do you know if the lawsuit is in the proper court? In the case of a debt buyer do you know if they have the requisite license to be collecting in Texas? Do you know that in Justice Court you have to ask permission to serve discovery and see what evidence the other side has? Do you know if the assignment is legally valid? Do you know if they can prove up a contract? Do you know how to appeal from JP Count to the County Court at Law? Are you going to get a better result by appealing? If you decide to settle are you getting the dismissal with prejudice? How are they going to report this account to the credit bureaus? Did you know that if they forgive more than $600 in debt they will issue a 1099 and submit it to the IRS? You need an experienced attorney to help you answer these and other questions.
Credit Card Debt litigation is a lot like a poker game. My job as a debt defense lawyer is to force the other side to show their cards. The creditors have the burden of proof to prove up each and every element of the cause of action they are seeking recovery for. While this may not sound that complex do you, do you think you can afford the risk of trying to do this all by yourself?
I recently took on a pro bono client from Legal Aid of Northwest Texas. She was considering filing for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. She was being sued by a 3rd party debt buyer claiming to be the assignee of a credit card account that she had defaulted on. After filing an answer and asking for some discovery, the debt buyer dropped their suit, and she elected not to file Bankruptcy. However, about a year before I met with her, she had tried to represent herself against a separate 3rd party debt buyer. She decided to take an agreed judgment and will be paying $150 to 200 per month for several years to come. While I cannot promise a particular result, I am fairly confident that I could have either gotten that case dismissed or negotiated to an amount quite a bit more reasonable. In addition, she paid for her own pre-filing Bankruptcy class which I could have arranged for her to get at no charge because she was a pro bono case. In short she lost money by not hiring an attorney sooner.
If you are indigent and cannot afford a lawyer, there are a number of services available, such as Legal Aid of Northwest Texas that may be able to find an attorney to handle your case pro bono. The Tarrant County Bar Association offers a legal line twice a month where you may call and ask questions of a local attorney who is volunteering his/her time. If you are a veteran, there is a group called the Texas Veterans Legal network that may be able to assist you. If you don’t hire me, get help somewhere. As I stated in a recent blog entry, judgments don’t ever really go away.
Call me now for a free consultation.